Under Pen. Code, § 486, California law divides theft into two degrees:

  • petty theft; and
  • grand theft.

Crimes charged as grand theft are obviously more serious than crimes charged as petty theft. The distinction between grand and petty theft, and the penalties imposed, might depend on several different factors including:

  • the value of the property stolen;
  • the way the property was taken;
  • the type of property stolen; and
  • whether the person accused of the taking had a prior theft conviction or qualifying designation.

For example, under Pen. Code, § 487, grand theft is defined as when the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a value exceeding $950 dollars, except as specified. One of the things that comprises grand theft is the theft of avocados, olives, citrus or deciduous fruits, other fruits, vegetables, nuts, artichokes, or other farm crops are taken of a value exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

On the other hand, Pen. Code, § 490.2, subd. (c), defines petty theft as obtaining any property by theft where the value of the money, labor, real or personal property taken does not exceed $950 and makes it punishable as a misdemeanor, except in the case where a person has a prior super strike or registrable sex conviction and a prior theft conviction, as specified in Pen. Code, § 490.2, subd. (a).

In all cases, the theft of a firearm is classified as grand theft regardless of the value of the firearm.

Attorney for Theft Crimes in Ventura, CA

If you were arrested for any type of theft crime, including petty theft, grand theft, shoplifting, retail theft, or receiving stolen property, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Jay Leiderman Law. Located in Ventura, we represent clients in all ten Ventura County cities – Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura.

With offices located in Ventura, CA, Jay Leiderman can help you mount an aggressive defense. Contact Jay Leiderman to find out more about the charges pending against you, the typical penalties imposed for that type of offense, and the best ways to fight the charges.

Call (805) 654-0200 today for a free consultation.

Overview of Theft Law in California

Back to top

Enhancements for a Prior Theft Conviction

In California, many theft-related offenses listed in Pen. Code, § 666 will qualify a defendant for enhanced status for the crime of petty theft with a prior theft conviction as:

  • Petty theft;
  • Grand theft;
  • Auto theft;
  • Burglary;
  • Carjacking;
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Identity theft committed against an elder or dependent adult;
  • Receiving stolen property; and
  • Robbery.

Back to top

California’s Definition of “Shoplifting”

Under California law, Pen. Code, § 459.5, subd. (a) defines “shoplifting” as:

  • entering a commercial establishment;
  • with intent to commit larceny;
  • while that establishment is open during regular business hours; and
  • where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed $950 dollars.

In California, shoplifting is punishable as a misdemeanor, except where a person has a prior super strike or registrable sex conviction. Any act of shoplifting must be charged as shoplifting.

Back to top

Unlawful Taking and Driving of a Vehicle

Vehicle Code section 10851(a) prohibits taking or driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent and with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of title or possession.

Theft-based violations of Vehicle Code section 10851(a) are misdemeanors unless the vehicle was worth more than $950.

To obtain a felony conviction for vehicle theft under Vehicle Code section 10851(a), the prosecutor has to prove both that the defendant took the vehicle with the intent to deprive the owner of its possession and that the vehicle was worth more than $950.

Back to top

The Impact of Proposition 47 on Theft Crimes

Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, reclassified as misdemeanors certain theft-related offenses that previously were felonies or wobblers. (People v. Valencia (2017) 3 Cal.5th 347, 355 (Valencia); § 1170.18, subds. (a), (b).)

Additionally, Proposition 47 added a provision allowing felony offenders “serving a sentence for a conviction” for offenses now reclassified as misdemeanors to petition to have their sentences recalled and to be resentenced if they met certain criteria. The court, however, has discretion to determine whether that resentencing would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.” (Valencia, at p. 355; § 1170.18, subd. (a), (b).)

Proposition 47 limits the trial court’s discretion to deny resentencing by defining the phrase “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” narrowly. (Valencia, supra, 3 Cal.5th at pp. 355-356).

Under Proposition 47, that phrase means an unreasonable risk that the petitioner will commit a “super strike.” (Ibid.) The Supreme Court held in Valencia, however, that Proposition 47’s narrow definition of “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” did not apply to Proposition 36 petitions for resentencing. (Id. at p. 375.)

Back to top

Additional Resources

Ventura Auto Theft Task Force – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) manages the task force with the goal of reducing incidents of auto theft through aggressive and collaborative efforts with law enforcement agencies in Ventura County. By using federal grant money, the VenCATT law enforcement team targets who steal motor vehicles and run “chop shops.” The task force also investigates allegations that a person has taken vehicle by force or committed the crime of carjacking. This joint task force includes members from the Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Unit, the District Attorney’s Office, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Ventura Police Department, the Oxnard Police Department, and the Santa Paula Police Department.

Auto Theft Prosecutions in Ventura, CA – Visit the website of the Venture County District Attorney’s Office to learn more about car theft and carjacking cases submitted to the prosecutor. After the submission of the case, one auto theft prosecutor is responsible for reviewing and filing cases submitted by law enforcement agencies and the Ventura Auto Theft Task Force (venCATT).

Back to top

Ventura County Criminal Defense Lawyer for Theft Crimes

No matter what kind of theft charge you are facing, Jay Leiderman Law can help formulate a plan to give you the best chances at a satisfactory resolution. Headquartered in Ventura, he works with California residents accused of crimes in all ten Ventura County cities – Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura itself. He has handled criminal cases big and small in both state and federal court, from petty theft all the way up to murder. Board-certified as a Criminal Law specialist, he has the experience, skill, and knowledge necessary to fight your theft charge effectively.

To get the best ultimate outcome, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney as early in the criminal process as possible. Jay Leiderman Law can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us at (805) 654-0200 today for a free and confidential consultation.

Back to top