Penal code defines theft as, every person who shall steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property entrusted, defrauding any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or every person who may report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character.  There are two major distinctions in charges related to theft, grand theft and petty theft.  Charges associated with theft are typically dependent and assessed in relation to the value of the alleged stolen property.

Courts will determine the value of the stolen property by the reasonable and fair market value.  If the charges of theft are related to labor or services given or received, the contract price will determine the sum.  If there is no written contract for the labor or service given, the reasonable and going wage for said labor will be used.  For on-going damages due to fraud, charges will continue to accrue to cover all damages previous, current and future.

If the value of the property in question is valued over $950 the charge would be considered grand theft.  Depending on the offender’s criminal history and the value assessed to the theft, grand theft charges can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  If convicted the penalty and fines associated felony theft may be up to but not exceeding three years in state prison and a maximum fee of $10,000.  The misdemeanor charges for petty theft may result in a charges not exceeding $1000 and six months of imprisonment. If the property is valued under $50 and the offender has no previous criminal history the charges could be reduced to an infraction carrying a maximum fine of $250.

Brandishing a weapon, violence, or threat to commit violence, during a theft may result in robbery charges.  Robbery is a felony, resulting in a larger fine and a maximum five year prison sentence.  Grand theft involving the theft of a firearm can lead to a higher sentence ranging from sixteen months up to but not exceeding three years.  Cases involving, live stock, farm crops, automobiles, airplanes, or if the property taken was directly from the person of another will result in felony theft charges.  For a repeat offense involving a vessel or vehicle the penalty can carry a maximum of three years in prison.  If a person is injured during a theft they may bring action for three times the amount of actual damages, in addition medical bills, cost of suit and attorney’s fees.  If a person buys or receives any property that he or she know to be stolen or illegally obtained, can face theft charges and can be imprisoned up to one year.  Any charge of theft should be taken seriously as even a misdemeanor charge or and infraction is included in your record and can effect your future.  Anyone charged with theft should seek legal representation to help mitigate potential damages, as the penalty for theft can be severe.

Marya Garcia is a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego serving clients dealing with Alien Smuggling, Battery, Domestic Violence, Drugs, DUI, Fraud, Sexual Abuse and Theft. For more information on MLG Defense experience and services feel free to fill out the contact form.

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