Theft Crimes:
Stealing property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner

Lawmakers in California define theft (theft crimes) as stealing property by larceny, false pretense, or embezzlement with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Larceny is the intentional and unlawful taking and carrying away of another’s property.

Theft by false pretenses is obtaining another’s property by deception or false representations.

Embezzlement occurs when the accused’s original possession of property was lawful, but later, the accused converts the property for an unlawful use.

California’s theft crimes law also includes other specific theft-related offenses, such as:

  • Failing to return rented or leased property,
  • Falsifying information in order to sell items to a pawnbroker,
  • Unlawfully diverting funds for services, labor, or materials,
  • Defrauding a public housing program,
  • Selling or otherwise unlawfully transferring or using a debit or credit card, and
  • Taking lost property without making reasonable efforts to find the owner.

Theft crimes are all similar, yet different in their applications. Petty Theft, Grand Theft, Robbery, and Burglary are all examples of distinct theft crimes.

Generally, Theft is the intentional act of taking someone else’s property, Burglary is the unlawful entry to a residence or business for the purpose of stealing property, and Robbery is the use of force to take property from someone else.

Just because you have been accused of a crime involving property, does not mean you are guilty of that crime. Multiple defenses are available for each of these crimes.

First of all, make sure to speak with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in the field and who can point out the differences between these crimes to you.

Theft crimes may have special allegations or enhancements applicable to them, which will generally result in a harsher punishment then a standalone charge.

Since each of these crimes carry different repercussions, it is important to have your attorney assess whether the charge is applicable to the charges alleged against the accused. Contact our office today to discuss the facts, the law, and its application. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney will assist you throughout the criminal defense process and help you achieve the most favorable outcome.

Classification of Theft Crimes and Penalties in California

Like many states, California classifies theft offenses according to the value of the property taken. California law measures the value of stolen property by the reasonable and fair market value of the property. If services are stolen, the value of the services is determined according to the contract price for those services or, if there is no contract price, according to the reasonable and going wages for the services. (Cal. Penal Code § 484 (2020).)

<b>Burglary (PC 459): </b><br> Entering a Structure or Vehicle to Commit Theft

Burglary (PC 459):
Entering a Structure or Vehicle to Commit Theft

Burglary is the criminal act of entering any residential Structure, Commercial Structure, or locked vehicle […]


<b>Grand Theft (PC 487): </b><br> Stealing a Property Worth $950 or More

Grand Theft (PC 487):
Stealing a Property Worth $950 or More

Grand theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property, which is valued as $950.00 […]


<b>Petty Theft:</b><br>Stealing a Property Worth Less than $950

Petty Theft:
Stealing a Property Worth Less than $950

Petty Theft is one of the most common theft charges in California. Defined under California […]


<b>Robbery (PC 211): </b><br>A Theft Crime Committed with use of force or fear

Robbery (PC 211):
A Theft Crime Committed with use of force or fear

California Penal Code (CPC) §211, also referred to as Robbery, makes it a crime to […]


<b>Shoplifting (PC 459.5): </b><br> Entering an open business to steal merchandise worth $950 or less

Shoplifting (PC 459.5):
Entering an open business to steal merchandise worth $950 or less

Penal Code 459.5 PC is the statute that makes shoplifting a misdemeanor offense in California. […]