A theft occurs when someone takes something of value from another, without their consent.  Theft crimes range from a minor petty theft to serious charges of armed robbery.  Technically, a theft is the unlawful taking and removing of another’s person property with the intent of depriving him or her of it.

Theft crimes in California can be charged as felonies, misdemeanors, or wobblers (which are crimes that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts of your case and any previous criminal history).

See general theft law here.

Examples of theft crimes include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Embezzlement
  • Forgery
  • Auto Theft
  • Receiving Stolen Property
  • Internet Theft
  • Credit/Check Card Fraud
  • Grand Theft
  • Armed Robbery


There are two levels of theft crimes: petty theft and grand theft.  Petty theft is the lesser offense and is charged as a misdemeanor.  Petty theft is the unlawful taking of someone’s property that is valued at $950 or less.  Grand theft is the more severe offense and is often filed as a felony.  Grand theft is the taking of someone else’s property valued at $950 or more.

Theft is a crime of moral turpitude which is viewed by the government as contrary to normal rules of morality.  A crime of moral turpitude is one that involves either fraud, dishonesty or antisocial behavior that harms others.  These crimes of moral turpitude can lead to serious immigration consequences if you are not a citizen of the United States, loss of employment, and can be used to impeach your credibility.

If your job requires you to be licensed by the state, you may run into  administrative proceedings from those licensing authorities, resulting from your arrest.  For example, if you are a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or even a contractor, the state board who regulates your profession could initiate proceedings seeking to suspend or remove your license in addition to the criminal proceedings.

Some defenses that may arise in a theft case include not having any actual intent to steal, or deprive, the person of their property.  Maybe you mistakenly thought the item was yours and, in actuality, it wasn’t.  What also often comes up is if the property stolen actually belonged to you.  All that is needed is an actual, good faith, belief that this property actually belonged to you.

Also keep in mind that additional issues may arise where someone has had prior theft offense convictions.

Because prosecutors believe strongly in holding people accountable for stealing the property of others, you can expect to face rigorous prosecution if you are charged with a theft crime.  If you have been charged with a theft crime, it is important to contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich for a free consultation as soon as possible to get the investigation started into the facts of the case and to protect your rights.

For aggressive and vigorous defense of your rights, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today.

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