Theft Crimes

San Diego Theft Attorney

Theft is a common charge that encompasses many different things. In general, it involves allegations that an individual knowingly and intentionally took property that belongs to another person. People charged with these crimes can face anything from a fine after being caught shoplifting to a long prison sentence for a robbery conviction.

Whether the theft crime you were arrested for is big or small, getting a theft attorney on your side is an excellent step. A conviction on your record could affect you for years to come. In our experience, we know that many times these cases are the result of an isolated bad decision by otherwise law-abiding people. They need a lawyer to help them.

That’s why we fight for people like you. San Diego theft attorney Stephen Cline has gotten theft charges dropped or reduced for many clients in the past 20 years.

Whether you are charged with misdemeanor petty theft or felony robbery, you are entitled to an attorney working for you. Give Stephen Cline a call today to discuss your case with no cost or obligation.

Types of Theft Crimes

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen G. Cline have handled all kinds of theft cases in San Diego, including:

1. Petty Theft (Penal Code 484)

Under California law, petty theft involves stolen items worth less than $950. This charge is often applied to shoplifting. Petty theft is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine in addition to civil penalties, though a theft attorney may be able to reduce this significantly or get the charge dismissed, particularly if this is a first-time offense.

This charge only applies to items taken without the use of a force. Taking anything of any value by force or threat of force is considered grand theft or robbery.

2. Grand Theft (Penal Code 487)

Grand theft is the charge authorities file when the item taken is worth $950 or more. This can include anything from embezzling funds to stealing expensive items like electronics, collectibles or jewelry. Depending on the specifics of the case, the charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.

3. Grand Theft Auto (Penal Code 487d1 PC)

When the property that is taken is an automobile, it’s referred to as grand theft auto. California law requires the vehicle be worth more than $400.

The charge is often a felony, but it can be a misdemeanor at the discretion of authorities if the person has no criminal record. Felony grand theft auto carries a sentence of 16 months to 3 years in state prison, followed by parole.

Related offenses include:

  • Carjacking (Penal Code Section 215 PC)
  • Grand Theft  (Penal Code Section 487 PC)
  • Joyriding (Vehicle Code Section 10851 VC)

4. Robbery (Penal Code 211)

Robbery is the taking of property by force or threat of force. Robbery is considered a violent felony, and the Three Strikes law may apply. It can carry a sentence of up to nine years in prison, though the sentence can more than double if a firearm is used in the robbery. The severe nature of this charge makes it essential that you have a lawyer working on your defense.

Robbery with a deadly weapon is considered armed robbery. If done via physical force instead of a weapon, it’s called a “strong arm” robbery.

5. Burglary (Penal Code 459)

Despite popular perception, you don’t have to actually steal anything to face a burglary charge. California defines burglary as unlawfully entering a dwelling or other place where you have no right to be with the intent to steal or commit any felony (like assault, rape, etc.)

Burglary can carry a sentence of up to six years in prison if the place burglarized is a home. Otherwise, the maximum sentence is a year in the county jail.

6. Embezzlement (Penal Code 503)

The punishment for embezzlement under California Penal Code Section 503 is based on the value of the property stolen. If the amount embezzled is over $950, the person convicted may face up to two or three years in state prison and up to $10,000 in court fines.

While the term “embezzlement” typically conjures up associations with big corporations and large amounts of money, embezzlement can also easily occur on an everyday level. If a cashier pockets non-registered sales or an employee inputs false data to manipulate accounting, these occurrences can both be charged as embezzlement.

7. Extortion (Penal Code 523)

California extortion law is broad, but generally speaking, extortion by definition is committed when a person coerces someone into handing over property, money or services they otherwise would not. Typically, extortion is associated with threats of physical violence and is charged as a felony.

Extortion is a serious crime and could result in sentencing that can range from four to 35 years behind bars if a person is convicted.

8. Fraud (Penal Code 484)

The details of each specific fraud case are what determines if the charge will be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. Common types of fraud crimes include identity theft, forgery, and check fraud.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to define California criminal fraud law: either a person has acted in a way that results in an underserved benefit to him- or herself or in a way that causes harm or loss to another.

9. Receiving Stolen Property (Penal Code 496)

Receiving stolen property under Penal Code 496, a person can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the property. Anything less than $950 is punishable up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If convicted of a felony, the sentencing can result in up to three years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

All of These Cases Call For A Theft Attorney

If you are convicted of any of these crimes, you will have a criminal record that may prevent you from advancing in your education or your career. Potential employers can legally ask you about your criminal record. If you’ve been charged with theft in San Diego, there’s no excuse not to do everything you can to get the charge dropped or reduced. That means hiring a theft lawyer.

Criminal statutes in California are far more complicated than the descriptions above. The charge and its severity may depend on nature of the object taken or other factors. The value of the object is often a debatable subject. An experienced theft lawyer knows how to make these arguments.

You need an attorney who has successfully handled all sorts of theft cases. Stephen Cline has seen all kinds of theft cases in his 20 years as a San Diego defense attorney.

Theft Defenses

In order to convict you, the city or district attorney’s office must prove several things beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, in a grand theft auto case, prosecutors must prove:

  • You took or drove the vehicle
  • You do not own the vehicle
  • You did not have the owner’s permission to take it
  • Your intent was to deprive the owner of their vehicle

If you are charged with theft in San Diego, there are several ways your attorney can go about defending your case.

We may argue that ownership cannot be proven. It’s also possible to contest the allegation that you intended to deprive the person of his or her property. For example: perhaps you took the car on a quick trip to the store and intended on returning it before the owner knew it was gone.

Every defense is case-specific. We get to know the details of every case we handle so we can build the best possible defense for our clients. We build and present each case vigorously and professionally. That is our job as lawyers.

Contact Stephen Cline

Whether you’re accused of shoplifting, burglary or armed robbery in San Diego, Stephen Cline has the experience necessary to build a defense on your behalf. If you’re looking to hire a private theft attorney for your case, Stephen Cline should be your first call.

Consultations are free and without obligation. Time isn’t on your side when you’re charged with a crime, so act quickly and get a lawyer on your side.