Petty Theft: Penal Code 484 & Penal Code 488
California Penal Code 484(a) states: Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another is guilty of theft.
Petty Theft Crimes Under Penal Code 484 Can Be a Misdemeanor Offense if:
- Theft is a result of the shoplifting offense and;
- Defendant has no prior criminal record, or;
- If the value of the stolen property is $950 or less.
What if the Value of Stolen Property Was Over $950?
Generally, a defendant can be charged with Grand Theft under Penal Code § 487 if he or she stole property valued over $950. Petty theft crimes are possibly the most common theft crimes prosecuted in Los Angeles County. According to an article released by the LA Times last year, “Property crimes, which include burglary, theft and auto theft, increased by 7%, largely because of an 11% increase in grand- and petty-theft cases, which together jumped from 964 during the first half of last year to 1,074 during the same period this year.” Luckily, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may help in reducing or dismissing Grand Theft charges and or penalties; including:
- Fines (maximum fine of $1000)
- Jail sentence
- County Jail or
- State prison
- Probation (maximum of three years)
- Summary probation (maximum of three years)
How Do The Types of Act Qualify as Theft Under Penal Code 484 and 488?
Generally, the court will often look at various factors surrounding the charges, such as the value of the property that was allegedly stolen, prior criminal convictions, charges, or cases, and the defendant intends to permanently deprive the owner of the property. In Los Angeles, a majority of petty theft cases involve “larceny”, otherwise known as shoplifting Many times, defendants caught shoplifting are merely booked and released from jail with only a petty theft citation. However, even if the defendant is booked and released from jail immediately, that does not necessarily decrease the chances of facing less serious penalties, such as jail time. Theft charges may also affect immigration status because the charges involve a crime of “moral turpitude“.
Example 1: Theft Under Penal Code 484 and 488: Jose is a lawful immigrant and has a pending citizenship application and was arrested for shoplifting at a Macy’s Department Store in Los Angeles and is currently facing petty theft by larceny charges. Jose is charged with larceny, such charges may negatively affect his citizenship application may because theft charges are considered as “a crime involving moral turpitude”.
Theft Charges by False Pretense under Penal Code Section 484
Generally, theft by false pretenses occurs when a defendant deliberately misrepresents facts in order to obtain possession or ownership of property from another. In order to be charged with theft by false pretenses, prosecutors are required to prove:
- Defendant knowingly and intentionally deceived a property owner by false or fraudulent representation
- Defendant intended to persuade the owner, or the owner’s agent, to let the defendant, or another person, take possession and ownership of the property
- The owner of the property relied on Defendant’s representation or pretense, thus Defendant gained possession and ownership of the property
Theft Charges by Larceny, “Shoplifting“ Under Penal Code Section 484
Larceny occurs when:
- You took possession of property owned by someone else
- You took the property without the owner’s consent
- When you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or to remove it from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property
- You moved the property and kept it for any period of time
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