Being convicted of theft is a serious matter and one that could lead you to serve as many as three years in prison. If you’ve already been charged with theft, the time to retain a Long Beach theft criminal defense lawyer is now.

Defining Theft

The State of California states that theft is the unlawful and intentional taking of property with the taker intending to deprive the owner of the property permanently per California Penal Code 484. Several different crimes fit the general term of theft, including robbery, receiving stolen property, embezzlement, and forgery.

Other actions, such as falsifying information when selling something to a pawnbroker, fraudulent obtaining credit, or failing to return leased property can also prompt Cypress Hill, California theft charges.

Types of Theft Crimes in California

There are three primary theft-related charges in California: theft, burglary, and robbery.

  • Theft - the actual taking of property

  • Burglary - entering a commercial or residential building/room with the intent to commit a theft or felony once there (even if an actual theft never occurs)

  • Robbery - using fear, force, or both to take someone else’s property away from them.

California categorizes the specific theft crime based on the value of the item allegedly taken based on fair market value or the contracted rate for services.



Penalties for Different Theft Crimes


Crimes involving items valued at $950 or less will be charged as petty theft. Most Lakewood, California petty theft charges are misdemeanors if the offender has no previous criminal record. A maximum sentence of six months in county jail and a fine up to $1,000 apply for those convicted of California petty theft misdemeanor charges.


The penalties for burglary depend on whether it’s a residential or commercial building in question. Burglary of a residential building is first-degree burglary and burglary of a non-residential (commercial) building is classified as a second-degree burglary. First-degree burglary is more serious with a potential penalty of six years in state prison, whereas second-degree burglary carries a prison sentence of up to three years.


There are three kinds of robbery classifications that impact penalties. Robbing someone in a taxi, building, or at an ATM machine, is first-degree robbery. Using an accomplice or a weapon to commit robbery is considered second-degree robbery. “Estes” robbery involves threatening or fighting someone who tries to stop you and will lead to a felony charge.

California’s Proposition 47

Proposition 47 passed in California in 2014, which downgraded many offenses from the felony line or felony/misdemeanor category of crimes that could be categorized either way. It is still possible for a person accused of theft in Lakeland to be hit with a “wobbler” if they have a previous petty theft or theft-associated conviction on their record.

With the passing of Proposition 47 in California, which reduced sentences for identity theft, receiving stolen property, check forgery, and theft — police officers are on high alert about possible theft. They will likely respond swiftly when arresting and charging people in California with theft.

It’s our goal when working with someone accused of a theft crime, to develop strategies to minimize such charges and potential consequences where possible. When a misdemeanor is upgraded to the felony level, more severe penalties apply.

Grand Theft Charges in California

If the stolen property in question is valued at $950 or above, the felony-level charge of grand theft instantly ups the stakes for the accused party. The charge of grand theft carries prison time of 16 months, two years, or three years based on the circumstances of the alleged crime. If the stolen property is a motor vehicle, this is a separate felony charge known as grand theft auto.

Theft crimes increased after the passage of Proposition 47; three-quarters of the spike in theft crimes and related charges were due to theft from motor vehicles.

Work With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Anyone charged with theft, robbery, or burglary in Long Beach, Cypress Hill, or Lakewood, California should immediately consult with a criminal defense lawyer. Multiple defenses to theft charges are available based on the specifics of the situation For your best chance at a favorable outcome to your case, choose to work with a dedicated Long Beach theft defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged. Call my firm, the McCready Law Group, today.


Facing criminal charges is a scary and stressful time, but you don't have to go through it alone. We have experience helping individuals through an array of theft charges in the Long Beach, California area. Whether you've been charged with petty theft or grand theft auto, call a criminal defense attorney right away. Reach out to McCready Law Group for a consultation and learn how we can benefit your case today.

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