An arrest and conviction of petty theft in San Diego can have serious consequences. Without proper legal representation, the police can take advantage of you. You could face the full force of the California criminal justice system on your own.

An experienced and skilled San Diego theft crimes lawyer can fight for your rights. A good theft crimes lawyer can often help you resolve the charges with a fine, with little effect on your permanent record.

But if you’re considering handling your charges on your own, that would be a big mistake.

Understanding California Penal Code Section 484

California Penal Code Section 484 deals with petty theft and petty crimes. Petty theft involves the taking of property that is $950 or less.

Petty left is when someone “feloniously steals, takes, carries, leads, or drives away the personal property of another.” This includes fraudulently obtaining the money or property of another through their labor or service.

For a prosecutor to secure a petty theft conviction, they have to demonstrate the following:

  1. The accused took someone’s property,
  2. The taking and possession of the property was done without the owner’s permission,
  3. The intent was to possess the stolen property permanently, and
  4. The property was physically moved from the owner’s possession.

If the prosecutor fails to prove even one of these elements, you can’t be convicted.

What Is Petty Theft Punishment and Sentencing?

Most charges of petty theft are misdemeanors. A misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.

However, the prosecutor can choose to treat the crime as an “infraction” if the property is worth less than $50. It would be like getting a speeding ticket with a fine of $250.

What If I Have Prior Theft Convictions?

Your case can be more difficult with prior theft convictions on your record, allowing the matter to be charged as a felony. The prosecutor may charge your petty theft as a felony if you have on your record:

  1. One or more prior theft convictions where a jail sentence was served, AND
  2. A prior conviction for a serious or violent offense, for any registerable sex offense, or for embezzlement from a dependent adult or anyone over the age of 65.

With these elements met, the prosecutor can charge you with a felony that calls for incarceration for 16 months, two years, or three years.

A skilled San Diego theft crimes lawyer can attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor for a potentially lower charge, despite prior convictions.

The Law Office of Mark Greany Can Help You with a San Diego Petty Theft Charge

It is very important to have a skilled and knowledgeable San Diego petty theft lawyer for representation. It is even more important if you have prior convictions.

It could mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony or the difference between a small fine or spending a few years in jail.

Attorney Mark Greany has been protecting the rights of people  accused of San Diego theft crimes for years. Contact us online or call now at 858-531-6387 to get started on your defense.