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Theft related offenses in California can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. A trained and experienced Criminal Defense attorney can often negotiate a reduction in your charges from a felony down to a misdemeanor grand theft, and sometimes even from a felony Grand Theft down to a petty theft.

According to California law, if the amount of property (or services) allegedly stolen is under $400, a person can be charged with petty theft

If the amount of property (or services) allegedly stolen is over $400, a person can be charged with Grand Theft, either as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Petty Theft

is punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail, and Misdemeanor Grand Theft is punishable by up to one year in the county jail whereas Felony Grand Theft is punishably by up to 3 years in state prison.  Significant fines are often assessed, in addition to several years of probation, where you may have to report on a regular basis to probation officer who will closely monitor your life and restrict your freedom.

If convicted of a theft offense, you may also be sued in civil court by the alleged victim for the amount allegedly stolen, or more.

There is even a category of theft offenses in California called a Petty Theft infraction, which is not a criminal conviction, and we often seek such results, resulting in little more than the equivalent of a speeding ticket on a person’s record.

Possession of Stolen Property

can be charged as either a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in the county jail, or as a felony, punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.  There is no “bright line” rule as to what constitutes a felony possession of stolen property charge vs. a misdemeanor offense for the same charge, and a reduction of your charges from a felony to a misdemeanor may well be possible depending on the circumstances of your case.    This charge, whether as a felony or misdemeanor, requires that the prosecution prove that you knew or reasonably should have known that the property was indeed stolen, and you can count on us to fight those allegations vigorously and to expose the lack of proof that you had such knowledge buried underneath the prosecution’s over confident and often exaggerated charges. 


is defined as the entering of a business or dwelling with the intent to commit a theft or any other felony inside. 

Police and prosecutors often take what may be a simple shoplifting case and file trumped up burglary charges alleging that the person entered the premised with the intent to steal when there is little or no evidence to support such an allegation.  Rest assured that we do not accept such charges without fighting to expose the holes and vulnerabilities in the burglary case that the police or prosecution may think that they have against you.

Residential Burglary

is a felony, and is also a strike in California, and can result in imprisonment up to six years in state prison.  If the alleged burglary is of a business or other non-residence, it can be charged as a misdemeanor with a possible penalty of up to one year in the county jail or as a felony with a possible penalty of up to three years in state prison.


 is always a felony, and is defined as the taking of another person’s property, from that person’s possession or immediate presence, through actual force or the threat of force.

The penalty sought by the prosecution may even be higher if a gun or other weapon was allegedly used or if a person is allegedly injured in the incident. 

While our ultimate goal will always start at the total dismissal of all charges, if this is not possible, we have had significant success in having our clients’ robbery charges reduced, such as to the non-strike charge of “Grand Theft Person”, with a significantly reduced punishment.

Conviction for any theft related offense can have devastating and lifelong negative consequences, could cost you your current job, result in you being denied when you apply for a future job, cost you your right to legally stay in the United States if you are not a citizen, and result in you being denied housing. 

Any conviction for a theft related offense can haunt your future forever, don’t let your future be compromised without giving us a chance to fight for your future!


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