Anyone can make a mistake. You walk into a grocery store after work, feeling tired after a long, stressful day, and you fill up your cart with food. You put some items on the shelf underneath the cart when you run out of room in the basket, but when you go through the checkout you forget that they’re there. You carry them out without paying, and the next thing you know you’re being stopped by the store’s security officer and accused of shoplifting. A San Diego theft lawyer can help.
There are a number of reasons someone might be accused of theft. Maybe you made a mistake like the scenario above. Maybe you have financial problems that made you feel desperate when you couldn’t pay the rent or feed your family. Maybe you fell under the influence of the wrong people, or had a momentary lapse in judgment when faced with temptation.
Theft charges are among the most common criminal charges seen in California courts. Theft charges can range from relatively minor to very serious, depending on the circumstances of the theft and the dollar value of the item you were alleged to have stolen.
Potential consequences you face if convicted of a theft charge in California include:
- Jail time
- Payment of restitution
- Criminal record that can affect job applications, rental housing applications, or immigration applications
- Suspension or revocation of a professional license
However, with a skilled and compassionate San Diego theft lawyer at your side, a theft charge doesn’t have to ruin your life.
An Experienced San Diego Theft Lawyer for Your Charge
When you or a family member is charged with theft, it’s natural to feel stressed and anxious. A criminal charge brings a lot of uncertainty to your life as you face the possibility of going to jail or paying fines that you may not be able to afford. If you’ve been charged with theft, it’s important that you seek the help of an experienced San Diego criminal lawyer.
There may be circumstances in your case or in your life that your lawyer can use to convince a prosecutor, a judge, or a jury to be lenient on you. Your criminal defense lawyer may be able to get you sentenced to probation, or negotiate to have your charge reduced to something less serious. If the facts and evidence are on your side, a good San Diego criminal lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed.
It’s our guiding philosophy as criminal defense lawyers that people charged with crimes in San Diego often are good people who made mistakes or encountered the wrong set of circumstances. It’s our goal to help you put your theft charge behind you and move on with your life. Call today to speak with a San Diego lawyer in a free consultation.
Types of Theft Charges
California theft charges cover a fairly broad category of actions from minor shoplifting to stealing millions of dollars. In general, theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property. That may include physically taking it, or taking it through the use of fraud.
Thefts typically are divided into two categories under the California Penal Code: petty theft and grand theft. The division is based on the dollar value of the item or items you were alleged to have stolen. There are some other specific forms of theft charges that you might encounter, depending on your circumstances.
Common types of theft charges we handle include:
- Petty Theft — Under California Penal Code §488, petty theft is basically any theft that isn’t grand theft, or in other words, theft of money or items that are valued at less than $950. Petty theft is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the value of the theft is $50 or less, petty theft can be charged as an infraction.
- Grand Theft — Under California Penal Code §484, grand theft is a theft in excess of $950. Grand theft is a felony. The possible punishment can vary depending on the item stolen, but most grand theft charges are punishable by up to one year in county jail under California Penal Code §489(c), or 16 months, two years, or three years in jail under California Penal Code §1170(h).
- Theft by False Pretenses — Theft by fraud involves using deception or false pretenses to convince someone else to give you their property. Theft by false pretenses can be either petty theft or grand theft, depending on the dollar amount involved.
- Shoplifting — The crime of shoplifting involves theft from a commercial establishment, such as a grocery store or department store.
- Grand Theft Auto — You may be charged with grand theft auto when you steal someone else’s car and don’t intend to bring it back.
- Receiving Stolen Property — When you are suspected of possessing or controlling property that was stolen from someone else, you can be charged with the offense of receiving stolen property.
A San Diego Theft Attorney Can Answer Your Questions
If you were accused of a theft crime in the San Diego area, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced theft lawyer. At McElfresh Law, we understand how stressful a theft conviction can be and we will work our hardest to make sure that your rights are protected. Call us today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a case consultation with Jessica McElfresh today or use our online contact form.