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Los Angeles Petty Theft Defense Law Firms

When someone hears the term “petty theft”, they may imagine that this criminal offense is minor or non-serious. While it is true that a charge of petty theft in Los Angeles is less serious than a grand theft charge, being convicted of petty theft can have far-reaching consequences.

Knowing more about this criminal charge is the best way to protect yourself from getting charged in the first place. If you find yourself facing a petty theft conviction, having knowledge of the consequences that you may be facing can be a very powerful asset.

Defining the Crime

Under Section 484 of the California Penal Code, a person may be guilty of petty theft if they:

  • Take property from another person or establishment
  • Take said property with the intention to deprive the owner of the property
  • Take an item that is valued at $950 or less

To properly understand this criminal charge, it is essential to understand the legal definition of theft. Under California law, theft is the intentional act of permanently depriving a person of their property or services or temporarily depriving that person so that they cannot get the full use of the item. This can refer to taking merchandise from a store, using a service and failing to pay for it or knowingly receiving property that has been stolen.

Examples of Petty Theft

Suppose that Jack goes to a supermarket to do his weekly grocery shopping. Jack picks up his groceries and goes to the checkout line to pay. While in line, Jack picks up a candy bar from the rack near the checkout register and places it into his pocket while taking out his wallet to pay for the groceries. He pays for his groceries but neglects to take the candy bar out and have it rung up so that he can pay for it.

Jack exits the store and is stopped by store personnel and detained until the police can arrive.

Now, Jack may not have willingly deprived the store owner of his or her property but it may certainly look that way to the store staff and the police. Jack may be arrested and charged with petty theft.

Legal Penalties

Under the law in Los Angeles, a person who is convicted of petty theft may face the following legal consequences:

  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Up to six months in county jail

In some cases, a person who is convicted of petty theft may be ordered to serve a term of supervised probation, in addition to or in place of the punishments listed above.

Legal Defenses

In most cases, stealing a very inexpensive item from a store or another person may not lead to jail time. However, the fines associated with this offense can be very expensive. Even worse, a petty theft charge can show up on a background check, potentially leading to lost job opportunities or even job termination.

If you are facing a petty theft charge in Los Angeles, our law firm can assist you with strong legal defense strategies. For example, our defense attorneys may argue that:

  • You did not intend to deprive the property’s owner of their property
  • You received stolen property without knowing it was stolen
  • You intended to return the item or pay for it

If these strategies are successful, you may avoid a conviction, jail time and fines and maintain your clear criminal record.

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