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California Law and the Penalties of Petty Theft Penal Code 484

In Los Angeles, as in the rest of California, an individual may find themselves facing a petty theft charge pursuant to the California Penal Code Section 484 for unlawfully taking someone else's property valued at $950 or less.

This petty theft law differentiates between grand theft and petty theft based on the value of the property stolen.

While petty theft is treated as a lesser offense compared to grand theft, it's still a serious crime that can have significant ramifications on a person's life, potentially resulting in a misdemeanor conviction or even a felony charge under certain circumstances.

That's why anyone charged with theft should consider consulting a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who can guide them through the complexities of the legal process.

Understanding California law and the penalties of petty theft penal code 484 petty will help you understand what you are up against when it comes time to go to court on your case.

How Does California Law Define Petty Theft?

Petty theft under California's Penal Code 484 PC extends beyond the direct theft of property. It can be committed through a number of actions that revolve around the unauthorized taking or using of another person's property:

  1. Theft by Larceny: This traditional form of theft involves directly taking someone's property without their permission, intending to deprive them of it permanently.
  2. Theft by Trick: This occurs when you trick or deceive someone into handing over their property. This can involve lying or some form of deception.
  3. Theft by False Pretense: This involves making false promises or presenting false information to persuade someone to give you their property. The key factor is that the victim must have relied on your false statement or promise when handing over their property.
  4. Theft by Embezzlement: This is when you unlawfully take or use property entrusted to you, usually in a work or professional setting.

For the crime to qualify as petty theft under PC 484, the stolen property's value should not exceed $950.

If the value is higher, the crime can be charged as grand theft, which carries more severe penalties.

Moreover, the intention to steal is a significant element of a petty theft charge. The law explicitly states that making "any false or fraudulent representation or pretense" to obtain someone's property qualifies as theft.

Even if you didn't physically take an item, but used deceit or trickery to gain possession, it could still constitute theft under PC 484.

What Happens When You're Arrested for Petty Theft Under PC 484?

When you're arrested for petty theft, the police will first read you your Miranda rights. These rights include your ability to remain silent and to have an attorney present. Make sure to use these rights to your advantage.

After your arrest, you'll be brought to a local police station for booking. During booking, your personal information is recorded along with the details of the alleged crime. You'll also likely be fingerprinted and photographed.

What Are the Best Defenses to PC 484 Charges?

Facing a petty theft charge under PC 484 can be daunting, but remember that being charged does not automatically mean being convicted.

An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will help you understand possible defenses to PC 484, some of which may include:

  • Claiming Innocence. If you didn't commit the theft, evidence such as surveillance footage, witness testimonies, or an alibi could prove your innocence.
  • Lack of Intent. You didn't intend to steal the property, or you mistakenly believed the property was yours.
  • Right to the Property. You genuinely believed that you had a right to the property in question. 
  • Involuntary Intoxication. You were involuntarily intoxicated and, thus, not in control of your actions. This must be carefully proven and is a rare defense.
  • Police Misconduct. The evidence was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, or your Miranda rights were not read to you at the time of the arrest.

The best defense strategy will be highly dependent on your specific situation.

Details such as the type of theft (larceny, trick, false pretense, or embezzlement), the value of the property, the presence or absence of any evidence, and any potential misconduct by law enforcement during your arrest, could all factor into your defense strategy.

What Are the Penalties for Petty Theft in California?

In California, petty theft under PC 484 is usually classified as a misdemeanor offense. If you're convicted, potential penalties for petty theft could include:

  1. Up to six months in county jail
  2. Fines up to $1,000
  3. Probation, which may come with conditions such as mandatory attendance at a theft education class or community service

What’s the Impact of Previous Convictions on Sentencing?

Repeated offenses can lead to more severe penalties. If you've previously been convicted of theft-related crimes, you may face stricter sentences. This can include longer jail time, larger fines, or more restrictive probation terms. 

In some cases, if you've been previously convicted of petty theft and subsequently commit theft again (regardless of the value of the property), prosecutors can choose to charge you with "petty theft with a prior," which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony under California Penal Code 666.

This could lead to a more severe sentence, including up to three years in state prison for a felony conviction.

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for Petty Theft?

Facing charges of petty theft under PC 484 is a serious matter and it can be overwhelming to navigate the legal system on your own.

That's where a criminal defense attorney can make a big difference. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the legal process and stand up for you in court.

A defense attorney will take a close look at your case. They'll review the evidence against you and assess whether the police followed all the correct procedures when they arrested you.

For instance, did they read you your Miranda rights? Did they have a legal reason to search you? Any mistakes, like these, could have a big impact on your case.

Remember, the goal of your attorney is to get you the best possible outcome. This might mean proving your innocence, showing that you didn't mean to steal, or arguing that you thought the property was yours.

Every case is unique, and your attorney will choose the best strategy for your situation.

In the next section, I'll outline potential consequences and penalties for a petty theft charge in California and explain why it's so important to seek legal help as soon as possible.

Will You Go to Jail for Petty Theft in California?

When you are charged with petty theft in California, it's vital to get legal help as soon as possible.

The California criminal justice system is designed to get convictions in every case. Going to court without a lawyer puts you at a disadvantage.

A legal professional can provide you with advice tailored to your specific circumstances and level the playing field.

It can be the difference between going to jail or having your freedom.

The value of having an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney on your side cannot be overstated.

An attorney will be familiar with the local courts and legal procedures, and they'll know how to effectively negotiate with prosecutors or convince a judge and a jury. 

Whether you're hoping to have your charges reduced, your case dismissed, or to secure a not-guilty verdict at trial, a knowledgeable attorney is a valuable asset.

Your attorney will help you prepare a strong defense, challenge the prosecution's evidence, and advocate for you in court.

Petty theft is a misdemeanor, don't hesitate to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. The sooner you take this step, the better positioned you will be to fight the charges against you.

Taking swift action can make a significant difference in your case's outcome, and an attorney can guide you through each step of the legal process.

Your future may be at stake, so it's critical to have expert legal help on your side.

Contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney for William Kroger

95 Percent Success Rate on Cases Taken by Attorney William Kroger

Whether you're currently facing a charge of petty theft under PC 484, or you're concerned about a possible future charge, it's important to know that you don't have to face these legal challenges alone.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorney William Kroger is committed to providing exceptional legal representation to individuals facing these types of charges. 

With a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the California Penal Code, attorney Kroger, and his team will work diligently to help you navigate the complexities of the legal system.

At William Kroger Attorney at Law, the team is well-versed in examining the evidence, challenging the prosecution's case, and crafting strategic defenses tailored to each client's unique circumstances. 

A petty theft charge hanging over you can keep you up at night, but you have the right to a strong defense and a positive result. You are innocent until proven guilty.

Attorney Kroger is dedicated to ensuring that each client receives the vigorous defense they deserve. He is committed to fighting for your rights and working towards the best possible outcome in your case. 

To get started with your defense, reach out to William Kroger’s office. His team is ready to provide the legal support, guidance, and representation you need during this challenging time.

Contact Mr. Kroger today for a confidential and free consultation about your petty theft case. Remember, it's never too early to get a dedicated legal advocate on your side.

Call 323-655-5700 or reach Attorney William Kroger online with his contact form.

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