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California Theft Attorneys

Consult an experienced attorney specializing in theft law for advice on how to lessen the impact of your arrest

Theft crimes cover a wide range of illegal actions from seemingly small crimes like shoplifting, to serious crimes like grand theft and burglary that can result in long, painful prison sentences. Criminal defense lawyers who are experienced at defending individuals in theft-related crimes can help you beat your case through an aggressive defense strategy.

As experienced attorneys who have helped many individuals resolve California theft crimes, My Rights Law knows how to place you in the best possible position in light of your circumstances. Remember, whether it’s a misdemeanor petty theft charge or felony grand theft charge, we have a theft lawyer here to help you today. To learn more, reach out to My Rights Law by calling (888) 702-8882 or sending a message through our secure web form.

The following are theft crimes that you may be charged with within California, and information on how a theft crime defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you are charged with one of these crimes.

Petty Theft – Penal Code 484(a) PC

The crime of petty theft, as you might expect, involves the taking of property that does not belong to you[1]. For the theft to be considered “petty” in California, the value of the property must be $950 or less. Theft is also known as larceny in California[2]. Shoplifting is similar to petty theft, but it is charged differently under California law.

Grand Theft – Penal Code 487 PC

The crime of grand theft involves the taking of property that does not belong to you[3]. Generally, for the theft to be considered “grand” in California, the value of the property must be greater than $950. Grand theft can occur for property valued at less than $950, if the property is a car or a firearm, or if the property is taken from the body of another person (such as pickpocketing or purse snatching). Theft is also known as larceny in California.

Robbery – Penal Code 211 PC

In California, robbery is the taking of personal property from another person using force or fear[4]. The property must be on the other person, or in his immediate presence when it is taken. The value of the property does not matter. Due to the use of force, robbery is considered a very serious crime. Even attempted robbery can result in prison time. If the robber is armed with a weapon, or if the victim is injured during the robbery, the penalty may be much more severe.

Shoplifting – Penal Code 459.5 PC

Shoplifting in California is a form of theft that involves entering a store or other commercial establishment when it is open and during regular business hours with the intent to steal property[5]. Like petty theft, shoplifting occurs when the stolen property is valued at $950 or less. The theft does not have to be successful to be charged with shoplifting. If the store or other commercial establishment is entered with intent to steal when it is not open, not during regular business hours, or if the property intended to be stolen has a value greater than $950, then the crime committed is burglary, not shoplifting[6].

Trespassing – Penal Code 622 PC

Although when most people hear the word “trespassing” they likely think of unlawfully entering someone else’s property, in California there are over 30 different acts that are considered trespassing[7]. Some of the more unexpected forms of trespass in California include taking wood or soil from another’s property, taking or damaging signs belonging to the state, and stealing or injuring oysters that are on another’s property. Some perhaps more predictable forms of trespass include opening gates on private property, building fires on other people’s land, knowingly skiing on closed trails, and refusing to leave a public building after being asked to leave by the owner.

Burglary – Penal Code 459 PC

In California, a burglary occurs when someone enters a building with the intent to commit a theft or a felony[8]. To be convicted of burglary, the defendant must have intended to commit the theft or felony before they entered the building. The burglar does not have to “break into” the building to be charged with burglary—all that matters is their intent to commit a theft or felony. The value of the property intended to be stolen does not matter—in fact, a person can be charged with shoplifting and burglary for the same incident.

Arson Penal – Code 451 PC

Arson, as you might expect, is the intentional setting of a fire to burn someone else’s property[9]. In California, arson does not include the burning your own property, unless the fire is set with the intent to defraud, or if the fire causes injury to another person or damage to another person’s property. More specifically, in California, the law for arson requires the fire be set “willfully and maliciously.” If, on the other hand, the person’s actions are reckless rather than intentional, that person can be charged with the lesser offense of unlawfully causing a fire. On the other end of the spectrum, aggravated arson is an extremely serious offense, charged when there are aggravating circumstances such as causing property damage in the millions of dollars or causing damage to five or more houses. If you are facing charges of aggravated arson, hire a highly skilled lawyer, such as the lawyers at My Rights Law, immediately.

Vandalism – Penal Code 594 PC

Vandalism in California occurs when a person defaces, damages, or destroys property they do not own “maliciously”[10]. Vandalism can be committed against another person’s property, or against property that belongs to a public entity[11]. Vandalism against a church or other place of worship may be considered a hate crime, which makes it a much more serious offense[12].

Carjacking – Penal Code 215 PC

In California, carjacking is the taking of a motor vehicle from another person, in their immediate presence, through force or fear[13]. The requirement of force or fear makes carjacking similar to robbery. The difference between carjacking and auto theft is that in a carjacking, the victim is present[14]. With auto theft (or other thefts) the victim is typically not present, they simply discover their property to be missing after the fact. Carjacking is a more serious crime than other thefts because of the fear and danger to the victim.

Receiving Stolen Property – Penal Code 496(a) PC

In California, it is against the law to buy or receive any property that you know is stolen[15]. It is also illegal to conceal or sell stolen property, or to withhold stolen property from its rightful owner. It is even illegal to aid another person in concealing, selling, or withholding stolen property. Not knowing the property was stolen is a defense to the charge of receiving stolen property.

Larceny – Penal Code 484(a) PC

In California, larceny refers to theft crimes, such as grand theft and petty theft[16]. See above for more details on theft.

Looting – Penal Code 463(a) PC

In California, looting is a theft or burglary committed during a state of emergency, local emergency, or evacuation order[17]. Examples of these types of emergencies include riots and natural disasters.

Lawyers For Theft Crimes In California

There is a variety of theft crimes you could be charged with in California. Each of these crimes has various elements that must be proven by the prosecution in order to secure a conviction. Theft crimes cases often involve elements and procedures that must be followed to the letter. If you are accused of a theft crime, you do not have to sort through this difficult situation by yourself. Criminal defense attorneys know the laws and procedures and the best strategies and tactics for defending their clients.

Protect your rights—if you or someone you know has been accused of a theft crime, contact a theft attorney immediately. My Rights Law has years of experience defending their clients against theft crimes. To learn more, reach out to My Rights Law by calling (888) 702-8882 for a free confidential consultation or leave us a message on our secure contact form.

[1] California Penal Code 484 PC.
[2] People v. Williams (1946) 73 Cal.App.2d 154
[3] California Penal Code 487 PC.
[4] California Penal Code 211 PC.
[5] California Penal Code 459.5 PC.
[6] People v. Smith (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 717.
[7] California Penal Code 622 PC.
[8] California Penal Code 459 PC.
[9] California Penal Code 451 PC.
[10] California Penal Code 594 PC.
[11] In re Nicholas Y., (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 941, 944.
[12] California Penal Code 594.3 PC.
[13] California Penal Code 215 PC.
[14] People v. O’Neil (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1126.
[15] California Penal Code 496(a) PC.
[16] California Penal Code 484(a) PC.
[17] California Penal Code 463(a) PC.

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