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Escondido Theft Crimes Attorney
Theft Crime Defense in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, San Marcos, and Vista
Theft occurs when a person takes another party’s property without their permission. The severity of potential punishments will depend on the nature of the act and the value of the property involved. In many cases, the scope of the theft is quite small, perhaps only involving a piece of merchandise swiped from a store. An impulsive error in judgment can quickly derail a person’s life if they are convicted – but legal help is available.
If you have been charged with any type of theft crime, do not panic. At Sterger Law Group, we are committed to providing our community with the legal support they need when facing all sorts of criminal charges. Our experienced Escondido theft crimes lawyer is proud to represent the little guy and brings a personal approach to our practice. We will take the time to listen to your story before thoroughly reviewing your defense options. Our goal is to minimize the negative impact a theft crime arrest has on your life. With our help, you may be able to reduce the charges, secure a lighter sentence, or avoid a conviction altogether.
Do not hesitate to call (760) 280-7900 or contact us online and schedule a free initial consultation. Flexible payment arrangements are available, and we offer our legal services in English and Spanish.
Penalties for Theft Crimes in California
Some theft-related offenses are considered “wobblers,” meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. In these cases, felony charges may be pursued if the defendant has a criminal history or if other aggravating factors were involved. Theft crimes involving property of significant value will generally be charged as felonies.
Our Escondido theft crimes attorney at Sterger Law Group can fight for you if you have been charged with:
- Petty Theft. This offense involves the theft of property valued at $950 or less. It is usually charged as a misdemeanor, with punishments including fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months of jail time. If the value of the stolen property is $50 or less, the offense can be charged as an infraction, meaning the maximum penalty is a fine of $250.
- Petty Theft with a Prior. Petty theft can be charged as a felony if the defendant has previously been incarcerated for a theft-related offense and they have been convicted of a serious or violent crime. If these conditions are not met, petty theft with a prior will be charged as a misdemeanor, but the punishments are greater, including up to one year of jail time. A felony conviction can result in up to three years of incarceration.
- Grand Theft. Someone will be charged with grand theft if the stolen property’s value exceeds $950 or includes a firearm of any value. When theft involves a firearm, the crime is always considered a felony. Otherwise, grand theft is a wobbler. Maximum penalties for a felony conviction include up to three years of prison time.
- Shoplifting. Shoplifting charges are distinct from petty theft charges even though there is a substantial overlap. A person can be charged with shoplifting if they enter a retail store while it is open with the intent to steal merchandise valued at $950 or less. If the offense involves entering a store when it is not open or an intent to steal merchandise whose value exceeds $950, the crime is considered a form of burglary, a much more serious offense. Shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor. Criminal punishments include up to six months of jail time, but the store owner can also choose to pursue civil legal action against the defendant. The defendant may be responsible for paying the store owner the value of the stolen merchandise (if the merchandise cannot be returned), up to $500 in fines, and legal fees.
- Looting. Looting charges may apply if someone commits petty theft or grand theft when a state of emergency or evacuation order is in effect. Looting involving grand theft is a wobbler offense, while looting involving petty theft is a misdemeanor. Both charges come with minimum sentencing requirements that can only be reduced at the discretion of the judge.
- Burglary. A person may be charged with burglary if they access a building, vehicle, or container without permission with the intent to steal something or commit any other felony. First-degree charges apply if the building or vehicle is “inhabited,” meaning it is used for residential purposes. It does not matter if the building or vehicle is actually occupied at the time of the breaking and entering. First-degree burglary is a felony offense and carries a maximum sentence of six years of prison time. Second-degree burglary, which does not involve an inhabited space, is a wobbler offense. A felony conviction can result in up to three years of incarceration.
- Robbery. Robbery, which is considered a violent crime in California, involves theft through the use of violence or the threat of violence. A person will be charged with first-degree robbery if the offense involves an ATM, a bus, a taxi, or a dwelling. Maximum penalties include up to nine years of incarceration for first-degree robbery and up to six years of incarceration for second-degree robbery.