Theft is one of the most commonly reported property crimes in the United States, and every state has different laws pertaining to theft offenses. California lawmakers recently approved a new law that changed the way many types of theft offenses are prosecuted, particularly retail theft under $950. Recently, California communities have seen waves of organized retail theft and shoplifting, with the police left unable to conduct arrests in many cases. However, someone can face severe criminal penalties for any type of theft in California, and the punishments for theft hinge on the value taken, the manner in which it was taken, and the defendant’s criminal record.
The Najera Law Group, P.C. is a team of experienced and accomplished Riverside criminal defense lawyers with years of experience representing clients in theft cases. It’s natural for anyone arrested on theft charges to have many legal questions about their potential defenses and the penalties they could face if convicted. The Najera Law Group, P.C. strives to help each client secure a case dismissal whenever possible or mitigate penalties when a conviction is certain.
You have the right to legal counsel after an arrest for any criminal offense in California, and it is crucial to take full advantage of this right as soon as possible after your arrest. An experienced Riverside theft defense lawyer can review the details of your case and guide you through your proceedings with confidence.
The Najera Law Group, P.C. maintains a balanced caseload that ensures every client has complete access to our professional resources and experience during their case proceedings. We help Riverside, CA clients through the preliminary stages of their cases, including arraignment and other early hearings, and we provide ongoing counsel during difficult criminal court proceedings. In addition, we can help clients determine their best available options for defense, and for those wrongfully accused, we’ll help them gather exculpatory evidence proving their innocence.
When a conviction is all but certain, and the prosecution has a solid case, plea bargaining may be the best option for the defendant. Prosecutors may offer plea deals to defendants facing their first offenses to conserve court resources, exchanging a guilty plea for a lighter sentence and/or lowered charges. Whether you must prove your innocence or negotiate a plea agreement, an experienced Riverside theft defense attorney is the best resource to consult. The Najera Law Group, P.C. will help you develop a customized defense strategy and help you navigate your case as efficiently as possible.
The California Penal Code defines theft as the unlawful taking of another party’s property without their consent and with the intention of depriving them of that property. Theft can apply to physical goods, commodities, cash, precious metals, and other valuables. Theft can also apply to time or services. For example, an employee who altered their timesheets to receive pay for more hours than they worked is guilty of wage theft. Likewise, hiring a company to perform a service and then refusing to pay the bill can amount to service theft.
The penalties for theft in California hinge on the value taken and other factors. Regarding the value of the stolen property, “petty theft” applies to most theft valued under $950 and qualifies as an infraction. The penalties are a fine of no more than $250 and restitution to the property owner. Theft over $950 is “grand theft” in California. Grand theft also applies to the theft of a firearm, which is an automatic felony offense in California. Otherwise, grand theft can qualify as a misdemeanor or felony based on the unique details of the case.
While the penalties for theft-related infractions and misdemeanors may seem mild in California, the record of conviction can interfere with the defendant’s life in various ways. For example, if you are convicted of theft in California, you could face a wide range of financial penalties, including fines, restitution for the value of the property stolen, the property owner’s costs of filing a civil action against you, and compensatory restitution to the property owner. It’s also possible for the defendant to face jail time or time in state prison for theft, misdemeanors, and felonies, respectively.
Aggravating and mitigating factors can also influence a defendant’s sentencing. For example, theft from an elderly, medically incapacitated, or mentally handicapped individual will incur greater penalties. The manner in which the property was stolen can also be an aggravating factor. Theft by force or deception can also enhance the defendant’s penalties. A Riverside theft defense attorney can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case and help their client determine the best possible defenses. Overcoming a theft conviction may require establishing an alibi, calling the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence into question, or proving an affirmative defense, such as mistaken ownership of the property in question.
The Najera Law Group, P.C. understands the anxiety and frustration that often follows an arrest in California. Whether you were charged with a theft offense you did not commit and feel like the system is working against you, or you broke the law and fear the penalties you face upon conviction, we can help. Our team has years of experience handling criminal defense for theft cases that we can leverage on your behalf, guiding you to the best possible result for your case. To discuss your options for defense counsel with a Riverside theft defense attorney, contact the Najera Law Group, P.C. today to schedule your free consultation.