Theft Laws – California Penal Code 484 PC
What are Theft Crimes under California Law?
Under California Penal Code 484 PC, it is illegal to take someone else’s property with the intent to keep it permanently. Our theft attorneys at Wallin & Klarich explain the four types of theft crimes in California that can result in criminal liability under Penal Code 484 PC:
- Theft crimes by larceny
- Theft crimes by false pretense
- Theft crimes by trick and
- Theft crimes by embezzlement
The theft offense committed will be classified as either theft by larceny, false pretense, trick or embezzlement based on the way in which the property was acquired. However, the four types of offenses are charged as theft crimes under California Penal Code section 488. Therefore, the prosecution only needs to prove that you committed at least one of these prohibited acts in order to convict you of theft. The property protected by this section includes real and personal property, money and services. Speak to an experienced theft attorney at Wallin & Klarich today for more information.
Theft by larceny
Under California Penal Code 484 PC, any person who feloniously steals, takes, carries, leads or drives away the personal property of another is guilty of theft by larceny. In order to convict you of this theft offense, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You took possession of property owned by someone else AND
- You took the property without the owner’s consent AND
- When you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner permanently of the object or to remove it from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property AND
- You moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief
Theft by false pretense
Under California Penal Code 484 PC, any person who knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defrauds another to obtain title to money, labor, or real personal property is guilty of theft by false pretense. In order to convict you of this offense, the prosecution must prove the following:
1. You knowingly and intentionally deceived a property owner by false or fraudulent representation or pretense AND
2. You did so intending to persuade the owner to let you take possession and ownership of the property AND
3. The owner let you take possession and ownership of the property because the owner relied on the representation of pretense
Theft by trick
Under California Penal Code 484 PC, any person who uses fraud or deceit to obtain possession of money, labor, or real personal property is guilty of theft by trick. In order to convict you of this theft crime in California, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You obtained property you knew was owned by someone else AND
- The property owner consented to your possession of the property because you used fraud or deceit AND
- When you obtained the property, you intended to deprive the owner permanently of the property or to remove it from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property AND
- You kept the property for any length of time AND
- The owner did not intend to transfer ownership of the property
Theft by embezzlement
Under California Penal Code 484 PC, any person who fraudulently appropriates property which has been entrusted to him or her is guilty of theft by embezzlement. In order to convict you of this offense, the prosecution must prove the following:
- An owner of property (or the owner’s agent) entrusted his or her property to you AND
- The owner (or the owner’s agent) did so because he or she trusted you AND
- You fraudulently converted or used that property for your own benefit AND
- When you converted or used the property, you intended to deprive the owner of its use
Grand theft vs. petty theft
Theft crimes are charged as either grand theft or petty theft depending upon the value and character of the item taken. Under California Penal Code 487 PC, your theft offense will be charged as grand theft if the value of money, labor, or real or personal property taken exceeds $950. The property’s value is determined by its present market value at the time of the offense (when it was taken). The offense will also be charged as grand theft if the character of the property falls within a prohibited category, regardless of its value at the time it was taken. You will be charged with grand theft if the type property taken is a firearm, a farm animal, automobile or if the property is taken from the person of another. All other theft crimes where the value of the property does not exceed $950 or the property does not fall within a prohibited category will be charged as petty theft. Speak to an experienced theft attorney at Wallin & Klarich to receive immediate assistance and answers to all your questions pertinent to the specific facts of your theft case.
Sentencing and Punishment for a Penal Code 484 PC Conviction
The punishment and sentencing for theft crimes is determined by whether the offense is charged as grand theft or petty theft under California Penal Code 487 PC and 488 PC. Grand theft is considered a “wobbler” in California, which means it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of your case and your previous criminal history.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor grand theft, you face up to a year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. If you are convicted of felony grand theft, you face a sentence of 16 months, two or three years in county jail and maximum fine of $10,000. In addition, there are several enhancements that increase your punishment beyond this range. If you are convicted of petty theft, you face up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Our theft attorneys answer the most frequently asked questions on theft crimes
To help you understand the various aspects of theft laws under California Penal Code 484 PC, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions in our FAQs section. There, you can find answers to questions such as:
- What is the difference between theft by false pretenses and theft by trick?
- What if I thought the item I took actually belonged to me?
- Can I still be charged with theft even if I returned the property to the owner?
Where can I find the most experienced California theft lawyers?
If you have been charged with theft under California Penal Code 484 PC, it is essential that you contact criminal defense lawyers who are experienced with theft crime cases. With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, our theft attorneys have successfully represented clients facing theft charges for over 30 years. We have the knowledge and the know-how to win your case.
Let us help you today. Call (877) 4-NO-JAIL (466-5245) or fill out our confidential form. We will be there when you call.