You may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a theft-related offense in California.
The type of charge will depend on the conduct. Most theft charges include petty theft (Penal Code section 484), grand theft (Penal Code section 487(a), burglary (Penal Code section 459), insurance fraud (Penal Code section 550(a)(6)), car theft (Penal Code section 10851(a)), car-jacking (Penal Code section 215(a)), robbery (Penal Code section 211) and white collar crime or money laundering.
Penal Code section 484: Petty theft is a misdemeanor. The district attorney must prove that the defendant committed the crime of theft and the property obtained was valued at nine hundred and fifty dollars or less.
Penal Code section 487(a): Grand theft is usually charged as a felony. The district attorney must prove the defendant took money, labor, or real or personal property from another and the value of said money, labor, or real or personal property taken exceeded nine-hundred and fifty dollars.
Penal Code section 459: Burglary may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on if the amount in dispute was more than $950 dollars. The district attorney must prove the defendant entered a building with the specific intent to steal and take away property belonging to another, and to deprive the owner permanently of that property or with the specific intent to commit the crime of burglary.
Penal Code section 548(a): Insurance fraud may be a felony or a misdemeanor. The district attorney must prove the defendant willfully injured, destroyed, secreted, abandoned, or disposed of property. The property was insured against loss or damage by theft, embezzlement or any casualty and the defendant acted with the intent to defraud or prejudice the insurer, whether the property was the property or, or in the possession of, the insurer or another person.
Penal Code section 10851(a): Vehicle theft may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The district attorney must prove that the defendant took or drove a vehicle belonging to another person, the other person had not consented to the taking or driving of his or her vehicle, and when the defendant took or drove the vehicle, he or she had the specific intent to deprive the owner either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of his/her title to or possession of the vehicle.
Penal Code section 215(a): Carjacking is a serious felony strike offense. The district attorney must prove that the defendant feloniously took a motor vehicle from the possession or immediate presence of the victim, the victim was either the driver or the passenger of said motor vehicle, the motor vehicle was taken against the will of the person in possession, the taking was accomplished by means of force or fear, and the defendant acted with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in the possession of the vehicle of that possession.
Penal Code section 211: Robbery is a serious and violent felony strike offense. The district attorney must prove that the victim had possession of personal property of some value, however slight, the defendant took personal property from the victim or from his or her immediate presence, the property was taken against the will of the victim, the defendant’s act of offense was accomplished either by force or fear and the defendant acted with the specific intent to permanently deprive the victim of the personal property.
HHJ trial attorneys has represented hundreds of clients in theft-related cases. Theft-related cases often require more time and resources than the average criminal case. Please contact HHJ Trial Attorneys to ensure you are getting the best defense for your theft-related case.
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The Criminal Process
- Defendant gets arrested
- Defendant gets charged with a crime(s)
- Arraignment – This is the first court appearance for the defendant where the complaint, charges, constitutional rights and maximum penalties are read to the client.
- Readiness Conference – This will be the second time a defendant comes to court to negotiate the case with the prosecutor.
- Preliminary Hearing – This is a separate court hearing for defendants charged with a felony offense. The prosecutor will present witnesses at this court hearing and the defense attorney will have a chance to question the prosecutor’s witnesses. If a person is charged with only misdemeanor offenses, he or she will not have a preliminary hearing. The judge will determine if the probable cause standard is met to go forward with the charges.
- Second Readiness Conference – This is another status conference where the defense attorney can negotiate the case with the prosecutor.
- Jury Trial – If the parties have not been able to settle the case, the case will move forward to trial. The length of the trial depends on the type and complexity of the case. Parties can reach a settlement agreement at any point before a jury verdict.