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THEFT, PENAL CODE 484(a)

Theft cases are very common in criminal court and can be charged either as felonies or misdemeanors. If the amount is more than $950, it will be charged as a felony. If it is $950 or less, it will be charged as a misdemeanor. Many innocent defendants face these charges as a result of misunderstandings, and these cases oftentimes turn on whether the theft was intentional or unintentional. Having a top criminal defense lawyer represent you in your Theft case is critical.

Elements of MISDEMEANOR Theft, Penal Code 484(a)

In order for a defendant to be found guilty of misdemeanor Theft, the prosecutor must prove two things:

  1. The defendant committed theft.
  2. The value of the property was valued at $950 or less.

Elements of FELONY Theft, Penal Code 484(a)

In order for a defendant to be found guilty of felony Theft, the prosecutor must prove two things:

  1. The defendant committed theft.
  2. The value of the property was valued at more than $950.

JAIL TIME

If charged as a felony, the maximum jail time a defendant can receive is 3 years in state prison. If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum jail time is 180 days in county jail.

COMMON DEFENSES

  1. It was unintentional. Let’s say a person walks into a store. They load up their cart and go to the self-checkout isle but forget to ring up the item on the register, even though they paid for everything else. In this scenario, the person did not mean to take the item without paying for it and is therefore not guilty of theft.
  2. The person did not know they had the item. A woman walks into a store with her child. The child puts a toy in the woman’s purse. The woman walks out of the store without paying for the toy. In this scenario, the woman did not know that she had a toy in her purse because she was not the person who put it in her purse. She did not even know of the toy’s presence.
  3. False accusations. A store clerk sees a customer with a product that the store sells. The clerk assumes that the customer took the product and did not pay for it. Unbeknownst to the clerk, the customer had bought the product elsewhere several days prior. The clerk accuses the customer of committing theft. In this scenario, the clerk was simply wrong. The customer did not take the item from the store.

Theft, PC 484(a), cases can be tricky even if they seem simple. Having an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer on your side is extremely important as you fight your criminal charges. Whether it’s by requesting surveillance footage or gathering the necessary witness statements, a top criminal defense attorney will fight to bring the prosecutor’s case into question so that you are not found guilty. We have experience fighting theft cases, and we pride ourselves on exhausting every avenue possible to prove your innocence. The Nghi Lam Law firm fights criminal cases in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and all over southern California. Call us at 213-235-7969 for a free consultation to see how we would help defend you in court.

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