California divides theft into two categories: petty theft and grand theft. There are also special related charged such as mail theft, auto theft, burglary, and receiving stolen property.
The severity of the charge and potential penalty depends primarily on the amount stolen. Generally, thefts under $950 in value are considered misdemeanors, and anything over that is a felony. Using violence, taking property directly from a person, or breaking into a locked structure may result in additional penalties.
To prove a theft case, the prosecution must show that you had no lawful right to the property and that you had a criminal intent to deprive the owner of the property. This burden may sound easy, but the prosecution is required to eliminate reasonable doubts like mistakes over ownership or bad eyewitness identification.
Because most thefts are nonviolent crimes, you also have several options instead of going to trial. If you have a clean record, a small theft charge may be dropped entirely if you complete community service. The prosecutor may also agree to reduce the charge or sentence if you pay full restitution.
Do you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer serving Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, Siskiyou, and Butte Counties? Call Michael J. Fannon today to schedule a consultation.