How Is Theft Defined In California?
In California, theft is legally defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property. The classification of the theft—whether it is grand theft or petty theft—depends on the value of the property taken:
- Grand Theft (Penal Code 487): This occurs when the value of the stolen property exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950). Grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specifics of the case, including the property’s value and the circumstances of the theft.
- Petty Theft (Penal Code 484(a) & 488): This involves the unlawful taking of property valued at nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or less. Petty theft is typically charged as a misdemeanor in California, with penalties including fines and potential jail time.
Types of Theft Cases We Defend Against
At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we specialize in a comprehensive range of theft cases, ensuring robust defense across various scenarios. Our expertise extends to, but is not limited to, the following types of theft:
- Burglary (Penal Code 459): We handle cases involving unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit theft or any felony inside.
- Embezzlement (Penal Code 503): Our defense services cover embezzlement, where someone fraudulently appropriates property entrusted to them.
- Theft by Fraud (Penal Code 484): We defend against accusations of obtaining property through deceit or fraudulent means.
- Shoplifting (Penal Code 459.5): Our team is experienced in defending shoplifting charges, involving the taking of goods from a retail establishment.
- Theft by Trick (Penal Code 484): We also handle cases where property is deceitfully obtained from the owner who willingly hands it over based on false pretenses.
Legal Implications of Accompanying Someone Committing Petty Theft
In California, accompanying someone who commits petty theft can indeed result in charges against you. Being present and involved in the situation, even if not directly committing the theft, can lead to varying degrees of legal responsibility. The charges can range from petty theft, under Penal Code 484(a), to more serious offenses depending on your level of involvement and the specifics of the case. This reflects the law’s stance on complicity and the importance of understanding the legal consequences of one’s actions in the context of theft-related offenses.
Legal Consequences of Returning Stolen Property
In California, returning stolen property does not necessarily exempt someone from being charged with theft. The act of taking the property unlawfully can still lead to charges, regardless of the subsequent return. Many businesses enforce strict policies against theft, often opting to prosecute regardless of whether the stolen items are returned. This stance is consistent with the legal principle that the initial act of theft constitutes a violation, and returning the property does not negate the fact that a crime was committed.
Procedure Following a Theft Arrest in California
After a theft arrest in California, the process varies based on the arrest’s nature:
- Citation Issuance: If you receive a citation, you must appear in court on the scheduled date to address the charge.
- Jail Booking: If arrested and booked into jail, two scenarios may unfold:
- Release with a Promise: You might be released with a promise to appear in court.
- Bail Requirement: Alternatively, bail could be set. You can either post bail for release or stay in custody until your court date.
First Court Appearance for Theft Charges
During the initial court appearance for a theft charge in California, several key steps occur:
- Notification of Charges: You will be formally informed of the charges against you.
- Review of Evidence: The police report and other relevant evidence will be presented and made available for review.
- Plea Offer and Response: Typically, the prosecution may present an offer. In most cases, a plea of ‘not guilty’ is entered at this stage.
- Scheduling Further Proceedings: The court will then schedule a subsequent court date to continue the legal process.