Petty Theft with Prior Convictions

Petty theft is a common charge in California, but if you have prior convictions, the consequences can be significantly more severe. Understanding the potential for enhanced charges due to prior convictions is crucial for anyone facing theft allegations. Enhanced charges can result in harsher penalties, including longer jail sentences and higher fines. This section provides an overview of petty theft and the implications of repeat offenses under California law.

Under California Penal Code Section 666, individuals with prior convictions for specific theft-related crimes can face enhanced charges if they are arrested for petty theft again. This law is designed to impose stricter penalties on repeat offenders, reflecting the state’s commitment to curbing recurrent criminal behavior. When you are convicted of petty theft and have prior convictions for certain theft-related crimes, the new charge can be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. This escalation depends on the nature and number of your previous offenses. The intent behind this legislation is to deter habitual offenders by imposing more severe consequences for repeated theft.

If you or a loved one is facing petty theft charges with prior convictions, it is essential to act quickly and secure experienced legal representation. Contact the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi at (310) 448-1529 or fill out our online contact form to discuss your case. Our dedicated attorney will provide the support and expertise you need to navigate this challenging situation. We offer flexible hours, weekend appointments, and can visit you in jail to ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.





    List of Offenses That Can Lead to Enhanced Charges if Repeated

    If you have been convicted of any of the following crimes, subsequent petty theft charges can result in enhanced penalties:

    • Grand Theft: Theft involving property valued over $950.
    • Robbery: Taking property from another person by force or intimidation.
    • Petty Theft: Theft of property valued at $950 or less.
    • Grand Theft Auto: Theft of a motor vehicle.
    • Burglary: Entering a structure with the intent to commit theft or any felony.
    • Carjacking: Taking a vehicle directly from the person or immediate presence of another using force or fear.

    Additionally, you may face enhanced charges if you have a prior conviction for a serious or violent felony, or if you are required to register as a sex offender due to a previous sex crime conviction. These factors can elevate a petty theft charge to a felony, carrying a potential sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison.

    Penalties for Enhanced Petty Theft

    In California, petty theft charges can be significantly escalated if you have prior convictions. This enhancement imposes stricter penalties to deter repeat offenders. A standard petty theft conviction typically results in up to six months in county jail. However, with prior convictions, the jail time can increase to a maximum of one year. If the charge is elevated to a felony due to prior serious or violent felonies, you could face a state prison sentence ranging from 16 months to three years.

    Fines for petty theft with prior convictions can be significantly higher than for first-time offenses. While a standard petty theft conviction might involve fines up to $1,000, enhanced charges can lead to much steeper financial penalties, reflecting the increased severity of the offense.

    Probation periods can also be extended and include stricter conditions for those with prior convictions. This might involve:

    • More frequent meetings with a probation officer
    • Mandatory participation in counseling or theft prevention programs
    • Community service requirements
    • Restitution payments to victims

    Differences Based on Prior Convictions

    • Three or More Prior Convictions: If you have three or more prior convictions for theft-related crimes such as grand theft, robbery, or burglary, your new petty theft charge can be elevated to a felony, leading to a state prison sentence.
    • Specific Prior Convictions: Prior convictions for serious or violent felonies, or requirements to register as a sex offender, can also result in enhanced charges for petty theft.

    Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft

    • Petty Theft: Involves stealing property valued at $950 or less. This is generally charged as a misdemeanor.
    • Grand Theft: Involves stealing property valued over $950. This can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.

    Diversion Programs

    For first-time offenders, diversion programs can be a viable alternative to incarceration. These programs aim to rehabilitate rather than punish and may include:

    • Theft Education Courses: Offenders may be required to attend courses that educate them on the legal and social consequences of theft and encourage lawful behavior.
    • Community Service: Offenders may be required to perform a certain number of hours of community service.
    • Counseling: Participation in counseling sessions can help address underlying issues such as addiction or financial stress that may have contributed to the theft.


    Agreeing to pay restitution to the victim can sometimes result in reduced charges or penalties. This involves compensating the victim for the value of the stolen property and any additional damages. Demonstrating a willingness to make amends can be a favorable factor in court and may lead to a more lenient sentence.

    Negotiating Plea Deals

    An experienced defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the charges or secure a plea deal that results in lesser penalties. This might involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for reduced sentencing or probation instead of jail time.

    Defense Strategies for Petty Theft Enhancements

    1. Challenging the Validity of Prior Convictions:
      • Reviewing Prior Convictions: Ensuring that the prior convictions cited by the prosecution are valid and applicable under California Penal Code Section 666. If any of the prior convictions are found to be invalid or incorrectly applied, they can be contested to prevent enhanced charges.
      • Expungement: If any prior convictions have been expunged or otherwise legally dismissed, they should not be used to enhance the current petty theft charge.
    2. Lack of Intent:
      • Proving Lack of Intent: Demonstrating that there was no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. This can involve providing evidence that the taking was accidental, mistaken, or that the defendant believed they had a right to the property.
    3. Consent:
      • Owner’s Consent: Arguing that the owner gave consent for the defendant to take or use the property, which negates the claim of theft. This defense can be supported by witness testimony or written agreements.
    4. Mistaken Identity:
      • Proving Mistaken Identity: Showing that the defendant was not the person who committed the theft. This can involve alibi evidence, video footage, or eyewitness testimony that places the defendant elsewhere at the time of the theft.
    5. Insufficient Evidence:
      • Challenging the Prosecution’s Evidence: Arguing that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the theft. This can involve scrutinizing the credibility of witnesses, the reliability of physical evidence, or the chain of custody for the evidence presented.

    Importance of Having an Experienced Defense Attorney

    1. Expert Legal Knowledge:
      • Understanding of the Law: An experienced attorney understands the nuances of California Penal Code Section 666 and can effectively challenge the prosecution’s case.
      • Application of Legal Precedents: Knowledge of relevant case law and legal precedents can be critical in forming a strong defense strategy.
    2. Negotiation Skills:
      • Plea Bargaining: An attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce charges or secure a more favorable plea deal, potentially avoiding enhanced penalties.
      • Diversion Programs: An attorney can advocate for the defendant’s participation in diversion programs, which can lead to charge dismissal upon successful completion.
    3. Comprehensive Defense Strategies:
      • Tailored Defense: An experienced attorney can develop a defense strategy tailored to the specifics of the case, considering all possible defenses and mitigating factors.
      • Investigative Resources: Access to professional investigators and experts who can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and provide testimony to support the defense.
    4. Courtroom Experience:
      • Trial Representation: Should the case go to trial, an experienced attorney has the skills and expertise to effectively represent the defendant in court, cross-examine witnesses, and present compelling arguments to the jury.

    Why Choose The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi?

    When facing enhanced petty theft charges, having an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney is essential. The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi brings over 20 years of experience in criminal defense, providing a strong track record of defending clients against a wide range of criminal charges, including theft-related offenses.

    Attorney Arash Hashemi, has been an active member of The State Bar of California since December 2002. He has successfully defended clients in both trial and appellate courts, ensuring their rights are protected at every stage of the legal process. His commitment to clients is evident in his thorough approach to each case, from meticulous preparation to aggressive courtroom representation.

    Expertise and Dedication

    • Extensive Legal Experience: With decades of criminal defense experience, our firm has a deep understanding of California’s criminal justice system.
    • Proven Track Record: Our office has represented thousands of clients, achieving favorable outcomes through diligent legal strategies and unwavering dedication.

    Comprehensive Legal Services

    • Court Representation: Our attorney is admitted to practice before all California State Courts and the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central, and Southern Districts of California. We bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to every case, ensuring thorough and effective representation.
    • Client-Centered Approach: We are dedicated to providing personalized legal services, understanding the unique circumstances of each case, and tailoring defense strategies accordingly.

    Contact a Los Angeles Petty Theft Defense Attorney & Schedule Your Consultation Today

    For expert legal assistance with enhanced petty theft charges, contact The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi. With over 20 years of experience in criminal defense, our team is committed to providing professional, effective legal representation. We understand the serious implications of these charges and are dedicated to providing a robust defense to protect your rights and future.

    Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer


    Schedule a Consultation:

    At The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and take the first step towards protecting your rights and securing your future.





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      Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is not intended to predict outcomes, as individual circumstances vary and laws may change over time. Those seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified attorney to understand how current laws apply to their specific situation. For detailed legal guidance on the topics discussed, please contact our law firm directly.