Theft Offenses

Common Definition of Theft

The simple definition of theft is taking the personal property of another without their consent.  In California, theft may be prosecuted as an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. Several factors that may determine the type of charge:

  • Type of property taken
  • Value of the property taken
  • Prior criminal convictions (especially prior thefts)
  • Overall sophistication of the offense
  • Reason or explanation for the theft

Special Classifications of Theft

  • Embezzlement: fraudulent appropriation of property from an employer may result in embezzlement charges, noting the special position of trust between employer and employee.
  • Robbery: defined as the taking of personal property by use of force, threat of force, or fear.
  • Elder or Dependant Adult Theft: Theft from elderly individuals or by a caretaker may be charged under laws related to elder abuse.
  • Identity Theft: use of another’s identity to obtain money, goods, or services may be charged as a type of identity theft.
  • Access Card Fraud: unauthorized use of another’s credit or debit card may result in charges specific to what is commonly called “credit card fraud”.
  • Petty Theft with Priors: three or more qualifying prior convictions may subject a defendant to increased punishment as a felony, even if the present theft allegation would otherwise be petty theft.
  • Vehicle Theft: the unauthorized taking or driving of a vehicle may be punished as a felony.

Intent to Steal

The prosecution must prove the intent to deprive the rightful owner possession of some specific piece of property.  Intent may be proven by circumstantial evidence, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can present evidence supporting the lack intent to steal.   For instance, simply forgetting to pay for an item before walking out of a store is not theft.  People commonly get preoccupied or forgetful while shopping in a store – crying kids, ringing cell phones, and arguments with a significant other may be the cause. Upon contact, loss prevention officers and the police might not distinguish between an intentional act and an accidental one.  In these cases, it is best to contact experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Newbould.

Consequences of a Theft Conviction

Aside from time in jail or prison, theft convictions have lifelong consequences on your ability to secure gainful employment and maintain your reputation as an honest, trustworthy person.  Without question, your character is on the line. Similar obstacles may compromise your ability to get and maintain professional licenses and pass pre-employment background checks. When facing theft charges, you need skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Newbould to defend your case – please contact me to discuss your case.