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The offenses that constitute theft in California include a wide range of criminal acts, ranging from shoplifting to robbery. Being convicted of a theft crime in California can result in a fine, jail time and a permanent criminal record. If you have been arrested or are facing charges, contact an Alameda theft lawyer as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer could preserve your constitutional rights through every step of the criminal justice process.

What are the Different Types Of Theft Charges in Alameda?

As defined in California Penal Code 484, the term theft refers to a variety of situations in which one person takes something of value that belongs to someone else with the specific intent of not returning whatever was taken to its rightful owner.

Like most other states, California classifies theft according to the value of what was taken. The two general categories of theft in California are petty and grand theft.

Petty Theft

Petty theft charges will be brought if the value of what was taken was $950 or less. If this charge is brought as a misdemeanor (which is generally the case), the potential penalties include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months of jail time in county jail.

If the value of what was taken was under $50 and the alleged perpetrator has no prior theft convictions, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge it as a non-criminal infraction. In such cases, the potential penalty involves a fine of up to $250.

Grand Theft

Grand theft charges will be brought if the value of what was taken was over $950. This type of charge can generally result in a prison sentence from six months to three years. If the alleged perpetrator has prior criminal convictions, the sentence may be even longer.

Potential Defenses

Depending on the specific facts and circumstances that are involved in a given case, it may be possible for someone who has been charged with theft to raise one or more defenses. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What was taken is worth less than the value attributed to it
  • The real perpetrator was someone other than the defendant
  • The alleged perpetrator has a valid ownership claim to what was taken
  • The accused was intoxicated or under the influence at the time of the alleged theft and, therefore, did not have the requisite “intent” that this crime requires

What are the Rights And Responsibilities of a Defendant?

Regardless of the severity of the charge and/or the defenses that may apply, anyone who is facing theft charges needs to take full advantage of their legal rights because not doing so may result in admissions or additional charges. First and foremost, this means that they should not answer any questions from law enforcement officers until they have had a chance to speak to their attorney (As soon as they ask to speak to their attorney, all such questioning must stop).

Anyone who is being questioned by law enforcement officers must provide their correct name and address – and must never pretend to be someone else because that can lead to a separate charge of impersonation. In addition, they must also obey any reasonable commands from such officers because not doing so can lead to a separate charge of resisting arrest.

How an Alameda Theft Attorney Could Help You

If you or someone you care about has been charged with any type of theft – or you have reason to believe that you may be a suspect in such a case – you should contact an Alameda theft lawyer to discuss available legal options.

An attorney could work to ensure that all your legal rights are fully protected and that you have an opportunity to provide any information that may exonerate you or mitigate your charges. Reach out as soon as possible for legal representation.

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