California theft and larceny laws are found in California Penal Code Sections 484 and 487. Though some states consider theft and larceny to be separate crimes, in California those two terms are interchangeable. You could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony for larceny depending upon the value of the stolen goods and your criminal history. That is why it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing these charges.
Petty Larceny/Theft (California Penal Code Section 484)
Larceny is defined in PC 484 as unlawfully, intentionally, and permanently taking property that belongs to someone else. Many types of crimes are categorized under larceny, including:
- Robbery (PC 211)
- Identity theft (PC 530.5)
- Forgery (PC 470)
- Receiving stolen goods (PC 496)
- Embezzlement (PC 503)
You can be charged with larceny in California if you don’t return leased or rented property, which includes failing to return rental cars, rented furniture or equipment, and library materials.
Grand Larceny/Theft (California Penal Code Section 487)
You could be charged with grand larceny if the value of the property stolen is more than a specific amount, or if the stolen property is a type of animal or weapon.
Specifically, California Penal Code Section 487 says the crime of larceny is increased to grand larceny when the stolen property is:
- Valued above $950
- Nuts, produce, vegetables, or fowl valued at more than $250
- Fish, shellfish, kelp or other aquacultural product valued at more than $250
- An automobile
- A firearm
- A dead horse, cow, pig, mule or a portion of a carcass of this type of livestock 1
The Charge of Larceny
If you steal, move, carry, lead or drive away the property of someone else with no intention to return the property, you could be charged with larceny under California Penal Code Section 484.
Example of Larceny – The expensive necklace of a friend breaks while she is at your home. You see the necklace drop to the floor, and you slide it under the couch thinking you will pick it up and keep it after she leaves. Your friend leaves your home without noticing the necklace was missing.
In this case, you have moved and taken possession of the property of someone else without their consent and you intend to keep it from the owner. You could be charged with larceny. If the necklace is valued at more than $950, you could be charged with grand larceny under California Penal Code Section 487.
Prosecution of Larceny
In order to be convicted of larceny, the prosecution must prove that each of these elements took place:
- You took possession of the property of someone else (either by having it on your person or by having it in an area or location under your control)
- You did not have permission from the owner to take possession of the property
- You moved the property (no matter how short a distance) and kept it, and
- You intended to deprive the owner of the property permanently or for such a period of time that the owner would be deprived of the majority of its value. Your intent must be present before or during the commission of the crime.
Penalties for Larceny
If you are convicted for petty larceny, you face a fine of up to $1,000, a county jail sentence of up to six months, or both the fine and jail time.
Grand larceny is a wobbler offense, meaning it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Felony grand larceny carries a penalty of up to three years in jail.
Have You Been Charged With Larceny? Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has been charged with petty larceny or grand larceny, it is critical that you contact a Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. Our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing criminal charges. We will analyze the facts of your case and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible in your case.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5425 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.