Theft is dived into petty theft and grand theft where the value of the property is more than $950. Petty theft under Penal Code section 484 and 488 is a misdemeanor if a first offense. Grand theft under Penal Code section 487, or petty theft with a prior under Penal Code section 666 are “wobblers”, meaning the district attorney has the authority to charge as either a felony or a misdemeanor. PC section 484 and 488 are punishable by 6 months in county jail and a $1000 fine. PC sections 487 and 666 may be punished by 3 years in prison where charged as a felony or 1 year in county jail where charged as a misdemeanor. Where the value of the property in question is less than $50, petty theft may be charged as an infraction which is punishable by a fine only, not exceeding $250.

In order to prove a defendant guilty of theft, the prosecution must show: 1) The Defendant took property belonging to someone else, 2) He took the property without the owner’s consent, 3) When he took the property, he intended to deprive the owner of it permanently, and 4) the defendant moved the property.

Theft is a specific intent crime, requiring the coincidence of the taking of the property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. Proving the contents of one’s mind is a difficult task. Proving the contents of one’s mind at a very specific moment is even more difficult. And when this is coupled with the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to lead a jury to acquit you of the charges. Where this is not possible, a good defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to allow the defendant to enter misdemeanor diversion in certain counties pursuant to Penal Code chapter 2.9 section 1001.5 et seq. Certain counties allow a defendant to suspend prosecution while he completes community service or a counseling program and pays restitution to the victim.

The information contained on this website represents opinion only and is not intended to, nor should be relied on as legal advice of any kind. Should you wish to consult with an attorney, contact an attorney at the Law Office of Jesse Terrell at (323) 638-4712.
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