While the term “petty theft” may bring to mind a minor infraction, the reality is that a conviction for any type of theft crime – including petty theft – can impact you for the rest of your life. Read on to learn how minimal charges can quickly grow and how a criminal defense attorney can help you. Reach out to Chambers Law Firm at 855-397-0210 to learn more about your options.
The two main types of theft crime in California
In California there are two main categories of theft crimes: petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft almost always involves the theft of property that’s valued at or below $950 – though there are some exceptions. Grand theft generally refers to theft of more than $950. Though petty theft sounds like a minor issue, the consequences can be significant. Let’s take a look at various Penal Codes in California and how they affect petty theft charges.
First-time offenders have the best chance of minor consequences
Penal Code 490.1 makes it clear that a person charged with theft may be eligible for a reduced penalty. Keep in mind that this code only refers to situations in which the amount of what was taken is valued at $50 in real value, money, labor, or personal property. While petty theft is normally charged as a misdemeanor, a first-time offender who stole less than $50 can get it reduced to an infraction, which results in no jail time and a maximum fine of $250.
If you’ve been convicted in the past then you could be looking at a serious issue
On the other hand, a person arrested for petty theft could get a lot more jail time or higher penalties if they’ve been convicted of either petty or grand theft in the past. If they’ve been convicted of burglary, robbery, carjacking, or any other felony, then they could get a sentence enhancement. Likewise, any person who’s required to register on the sex offender list will also be considered a prior offender.
Penalties are likely to increase if there are several charges of theft
Whether you’re being charged with petty theft or grand theft, if you have several charges then you’ll likely see a harsher sentence. The amount of time in jail typically is impacted most by the value of the property that was stolen. If the amount was more than $65,000 then a one year sentence is likely, if it’s more than $200,000 then a two year sentence is likely, and up to three years is likely if the loss was in excess of $1.3 million.
If the theft was considered part of a larger scheme then additional charges of conspiracy can also be added. Likewise, if any type of weapon was used then you’re looking at a sentencing enhancement.
The good news is that no matter what your charge is, and no matter what sentencing enhancements you may be looking at Chambers Law Firm is here to help you. Call us at 855-397-0210 to learn about your options. You are not in this alone. Call today for a consultation.