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Under California law, theft is a crime that involves taking another’s property without permission or knowledge, with the intention of permanently depriving him or her of that property. While some cases of theft are committed intentionally, many other cases may arise as a result of a misunderstanding or a moment’s lapse in good judgment.

But if you’re charged with theft and convicted, just a moment of clouded thinking can result in a loss of freedom and a major blemish on your record that can have a major impact on the rest of your life.

Theft charges in Orange County

In Orange County, theft charges can be brought against anyone who allegedly:

  • steals or otherwise takes away another person’s personal property;
  • knowingly defrauds another person of money, labor or property; or,obtains and uses credit under false pretenses.

There are different types of theft, and each type has specific penalties:

  • Petty theft: Petty theft is the theft of property valued at up to $950. A first-time offense of misdemeanor petty theft can result in jail time of up to six months. Multiple petty theft convictions can result in a felony charge if you’re arrested on petty theft charges again. Petty theft with a prior conviction can result in jail time of up to three years in state prison.
  • Petty theft with a prior conviction: If you’re charged with petty theft and you have a prior conviction of petty theft, grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary, carjacking, robbery or felony receiving stolen property, you can face significantly increased penalties if convicted on your current petty theft charge.
  • Shoplifting: Once included under petty theft, shoplifting now has its own section under California law. Shoplifting is defined as entering a business during regular business hours with the intent to steal an item or items with a combined value of $950 or less. Intent means you don’t need to physically remove the items from the business to be charged with shoplifting – all that matters is that you intend to steal those items. Most shoplifting charges occur when someone removes an item, but charges can also be filed if:
    • you switch price tags so you pay less than the intended price for an item
    • you put a high-priced item into a box or package belonging to a lower-priced item
    • you enter a fitting room and putting on new clothing then leaving without paying for the item
  • Grand theft: Grand theft is defined as taking property with a value of more than $950, and it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted, you could serve jail time or up to a year in county jail or up to three years in a state prison.
  • Grand theft auto: As its name implies, grand theft auto is theft of an automobile, and like grand theft, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction can result in up to one year in the county jail or up to three years in state prison.
  • Burglary: Burglary charges are filed when a person enters a property with the intention of stealing property. Burglary of a residence is always considered a felony and is a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law. Burglary of a business can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the amount of the property involved.

Even when a conviction does not result in jail time, the effects of a charge on your personal and professional life can be devastating and very difficult to overcome, even with time.

Hiring an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending yourself against a charge of theft or burglary is not easy. It requires an in-depth understanding of the law, as well as an understanding of the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime. Developing a strong defense means working with an Orange County criminal lawyer as soon as possible to begin gathering evidence and building your case.

Newport Beach criminal defense attorney Maltaise Cini is skilled in aggressively defending her clients’ rights, ensuring every case is strongly developed for the best possible outcome.

But time is of the essence: The sooner you begin working with an attorney, the stronger your case will be. If you’ve been charged with theft or burglary, protect yourself by working with one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the Newport Beach area. Call the Law Office of Maltaise Cini today at 949-660-1389 to schedule a consultation and learn how she can help you protect your rights and your future.