When does a theft offense become a felony in California?
Every state has a unique approach to the criminal law firm. In other words, there are dozens of different statutes across the country regarding theft and other common crimes. The definitions for different forms of theft, as well as the consequences they carry, vary from state to state. However, it’s important to understand that theft is a serious criminal allegation in any state.
In California, there are specific rules in place that separate minor theft or petty theft from serious theft or grand theft. Understanding how California defines legal terms related to theft can help you make informed choices about a criminal defense if you or someone you love may soon face theft-related criminal charges.
Minor theft offenses are typically misdemeanors
Shoplifting or stealing smaller items can still result in serious criminal consequences. However, in most cases, theft of commercial goods worth less than $950 will end up prosecuted as petty theft, which is a misdemeanor in California.
There is an exception to this, however. California state law also specifically addresses the theft of farm animals and crops. Robery and Theft of items such as domestic birds, olives, citrus fruit, nuts, vegetables or even crustaceans may qualify as grand theft if their value is $250 or more. In order to establish the price point for agricultural items, the courts will look at the market value of those items at the time of the theft.
Anyone with pending criminal charges related to a fact that involves more than $950 of consumer goods or $250 of agricultural goods will face felony charges of grand theft in California. It should also be noted that theft of motor vehicles or firearms of any value is also a felony under California law.
Determine the best way to address serious theft charges
There are many different ways that people can address potential theft charges. In circumstances where the criminal charges stem from a mistake, oversight or miscommunication, it may be possible to resolve issues with the other party outside of the courtroom. In that scenario, the person accused of the crime may be able to make restitution to the other party without involving the criminal courts.
Other times, theft charges relate to wrongful identification of the alleged perpetrator. Each criminal theft case is unique, which is why it is very important to carefully review the details of the allegations against you.
In some cases, it may be possible for you to develop a strong defense that will help you defeat the charges and avoid both criminal consequences and the criminal record that could impact your future for many years. Depending on the circumstances and evidence, you can begin building a defense strategy as soon as you know you will face criminal consequences.