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    Are Shoplifting and Petty Theft the Same Crime under California Law?

    Posted on: March 15th, 2022 by Dod Law

    Woman stealing merchandiseIf you have been arrested for theft in California, it is essential to understand the charges against you. While shoplifting and petty theft are similar crimes, they are classified as two distinct crimes under California law. While there are several differences between the two crimes, one of the most important distinctions is that you can be charged with shoplifting if you entered a business with the intent to steal, regardless of if you actually took anything. 

    Facing theft charges can be overwhelming, and the punishment for conviction can significantly impact your life. If you have been charged with petty theft or shoplifting in California, hiring an experienced theft defense attorney is vital to protect your right to fight the charges against you. Your attorney will get to know you and the details of your case to skillfully craft your defense and represent your interests. 

    The Difference between Shoplifting and Petty Theft in California

    Despite the similarities, shoplifting and petty theft are separate crimes. Shoplifting occurs if an individual enters a business during regular business hours with the intent to steal merchandise valued at $950 or less. In other words, you do not actually need to take the merchandise in question to be charged. On the other hand, petty theft is defined as taking another person’s property valued at $950 or less without their permission and with the intent to keep it permanently.  

    Since petty theft and shoplifting are non-violent crimes, they are typically charged as misdemeanors and carry the same punishment. If you are convicted of shoplifting or petty theft in California, you could be sentenced to up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you have been convicted of theft in the past and have been charged with petty theft again, it is up to the prosecutor to decide if the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are convicted of felony petty theft with a prior conviction, you could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

    How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You Fight Your Theft Charges in California?

    If you have been arrested on theft charges in California, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights and freedom. A few ways an attorney can help the success of your case include:

    • Conducting an independent investigation into your case
    • Compiling evidence and interviewing key witnesses
    • Negotiating a plea on your behalf
    • Representing you in court
    • Ensuring you understand the charges against you
    • Using their legal expertise to develop a strong defense strategy
    • Answering any legal questions that arise throughout your case

    It is crucial to remember that you do not need to fight your charges alone. Partnering with a seasoned California criminal defense attorney can give you peace of mind that your case is in the experienced hands of a legal expert. 

    Speak to an Experienced San Diego Theft Defense Lawyer Today

    A petty theft or shoplifting conviction can severely damage your career and relationships and may even cause you to lose your freedom. Attorney Dod of Dod Law, APC understands the impact a conviction can have on your life and is committed to providing clients in San Diego and the surrounding areas with the highest quality of legal representation. Attorney Dod has 17 years of experience protecting the rights of criminal defendants in California and has a proven track record of success. To schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Attorney Dod can help you, call us today at (619) 814-5110 or complete our contact form.

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