Theft crimes in Los Angeles can be charged in various ways depending on the value of what was allegedly stolen as well as the manner in which it was taken and the type of property involved.
Though some charges come with serious and potentially life-altering consequences if convicted, our experienced Los Angeles theft crimes lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group are here to help.
Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft
The two categories into which a simple theft charge can fall are petty theft and grand theft charges. Petty theft is the lesser charge, and it comes with much lower penalties if convicted.
Our skilled Los Angeles theft crimes lawyers may be able to help by working to get a grand theft charge lowered to petty theft, as this would result in much more favorable consequences.
To be charged with petty theft, you must meet certain criteria.
- The property you allegedly stole is valued at less than $950
- You did not take the property off of someone’s person (i.e. “mugging” them)
- The property is not a motor vehicle, a horse, a firearm, or more than $250 worth of agricultural products
As long as your alleged offense meets those criteria, you will face a petty theft charge rather than a grand theft charge. Additionally, the charge you face can have a different name but still be considered a petty theft charge. Examples include:
- Theft by fraud
- Theft by trick
California’s grand theft laws can be quite complex because this charge essentially encapsulates most theft crimes that do not fall into the petty theft category. However, our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can help you understand how the law applies to your particular charges.
To be charged with grand theft, the offense you are alleged to have committed must meet the following criteria:
- The property’s value is more than $950
- You took the property off of someone’s person (i.e. “mugging” them)
- The property is a vehicle, a horse, more than $250 worth of agricultural products, or a firearm
In many cases, grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When deciding which level to use when prosecuting the case, an attorney will look into your personal criminal history as well as the specific details of your case.
Sometimes, a grand theft charge is automatically a felony and can have life-altering consequences. Those situations include:
- When the stolen property is a firearm
- Most grand theft cases involving motor vehicles
In those circumstances, the prosecutor may be legally obligated to charge you with a felony, so it is best to have an adept Los Angeles theft crimes lawyer on your case to help ensure that you are fighting the charges as aggressively as possible.
For a free legal consultation with a Criminal Defense lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 896-2723
When Theft Involves Vehicles
If you have been charged with stealing a motor vehicle, your case can be prosecuted in one of two ways. The first is a variant of grand theft and is the more serious charge.
Grand Theft Auto
The main difference between this charge and the lesser motor vehicle theft charge is that grand theft auto involves the intent to take a vehicle permanently or long-term. Though grand theft auto does not have to involve any form of violence, it is almost always charged as a felony and the potential penalties can be severe.
- Up to three years in jail
- An additional one or two years in jail depending on the value of the vehicle
- A fine of up to $10,000
Most of us do not have $10,000 on hand and cannot simply retreat from normal life for 3 years, so these penalties can be permanently devastating. At the Simmrin Law Group, our Los Angeles theft crimes lawyers may be able to reduce the charges to the second, lower form of theft involving a motor vehicle.
Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle
Unlawful taking of a vehicle, otherwise known as “joyriding,” can be charged when the vehicle was intended to be taken either long-term or for a short period of time. This means unlawful taking of a vehicle can be charged when a person is alleged to have taken a car temporarily or as a reduced version of grand theft auto.
Penalties for this “joyriding” offense can include:
- Up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine for misdemeanors
- Up to three years in state prison for felonies
A reduction of a grand theft auto charge to an unlawful taking of a vehicle charge is typically the result of a plea bargain, and our criminal defense lawyers can help ensure that your plea bargain is optimal and amenable to your interests.
Los Angeles Theft Crimes Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
Understanding Robbery Charges in California
In California, robbery is the most serious theft charge a person can face. It comes with the most severe penalties and is always charged as a felony, but there are several ways that an expert Los Angeles theft crimes lawyer can help defend against the allegations.
The first is by taking issue with the prosecution’s attempts to prove the necessary elements of robbery, which include the taking of property:
- That does not belong to you
- Off of someone’s person or in their presence
- Against their will
- By using force or fear tactics
- With the intention of depriving them of the property long-term
The use of force or fear is what sets robbery apart from other theft crime charges, and the legal definition of force or fear can include the use of drugs or alcohol during the robbery. However, there is another important element that must be present for a charge of robbery to result in a conviction: the robbery must be completed in order to be charged.
In other words, if you did not actually take the property and only attempted to take the property, it cannot be charged as robbery. This is another way in which our criminal defense attorneys may be able to have the charge reduced or dropped altogether.
If convicted of robbery, you may face anywhere from three years to life in prison depending on the specific circumstances of your case, so it is vitally important that you contact our experienced criminal defense team in Los Angeles as soon as possible.
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Other Theft Crimes in Los Angeles
While we have discussed the most common forms of theft in Los Angeles, there are other crimes that fall into this category or are associated with theft crimes. Regardless of your charge, our veteran Los Angeles theft crime lawyers may be able to help you avoid severe penalties.
Burglary is listed in Chapter Two of the California Penal Code. It can be charged in the first degree or the less-serious second degree. The crime involves breaking and entering into the property of someone else with the intent to commit a crime, such as petty or grand theft.
First-degree burglary, which is always charged as a felony and falls under the three-strikes law, is charged when you are alleged to have entered an inhabited dwelling. This can be a house, apartment, or any other type of structure that is being used as a dwelling place.
Second-degree burglary is also called commercial burglary. It is akin to shoplifting, but is used when the property allegedly stolen is valued over $950. You can’t be charged with both shoplifting and burglary for the same incident.
Penalties for a burglary conviction include:
- Two, four, or six years in state prison for first degree burglary
- Up to one year in county jail for second degree burglary
The intentional taking of another person’s identifying information is called identity theft, and it can be prosecuted in California as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must show that:
- You used another person’s information without consent.
- You intentionally took that person’s information.
- You used the information to acquire goods or services
While a felony identity theft conviction could result in hefty fines and up to three years in state prison, that’s not the worst that could happen. The federal government also pursues identity theft charges vigorously, and a federal conviction could have even worse consequences.
This is why it is crucial to have an experienced identity theft lawyer on your side as soon as you are charged.
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Common Defenses Against Theft Crimes
There are several ways in which a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you eliminate or reduce your charge. Some of the most common forms of defense include:
- Lack of specific intent to steal property
- Mistaken identity (you were not the thief in question)
- Intrinsic right (you had a right to the property)
- Lack of completion (the property owner retained possession of the item)
When you discuss your case with one of the experienced attorneys at the Simmrin Law Group, we can assess the details of your charge and begin to form a clearer understanding of what your defense should entail.
Contact a Theft Crimes Lawyer Today for a FREE Consultation
At the Simmrin Law Group, our Los Angeles theft crimes lawyers are available to discuss the specifics of your case in a FREE consultation. To get in touch with us, fill out the form to the right of this page or call us today.