Being charged with theft in California will lead to fear as to what the future might hold. A conviction can result in jail time, fines and long-term consequences. Still, there can be confusion as to exactly what constitutes theft.
There are different levels of theft
Anyone who is concerned about a theft charge should have a basic understanding of the law. To warrant a theft charge, it must be shown that the person intentionally took an item from its owner.
Most will associate this with stealing money, a car or jewelry. However, it can extend to not paying for services rendered or another person’s labor.
Petty theft is for property that is valued at $950 or less. Grand theft is for property that surpasses this amount.
After a conviction for petty theft, the person could face a fine of $1,000, six months’ incarceration or both. Those who were, for example, shoplifting for low-priced items worth less than $50 could be charged with a misdemeanor or an infraction. In these cases, they will be fined a maximum of $250.
A felony conviction for grand theft could lead to a one-year stint in the county jail. The court has discretion to give six months to three years in jail. With both petty theft and grand theft, a person with previous convictions for theft crimes might face worse penalties.
There are effective defenses for allegations of theft
Simply being accused of theft does not necessarily mean it is true. There could have been a misunderstanding. The owner might have agreed to let a person take an item and later claimed it was stolen. Or the person did not intend to steal anything, perhaps due to intoxication. Assessing the circumstances is essential when arrested for any type of theft.