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Understanding California's theft laws

Simple mistakes, misunderstandings or minor errors in judgment can sometimes result in serious consequences. For example, it is not uncommon for a misunderstanding between two parties to result in an allegation of theft. Understanding California's theft laws is an important part of building a strong defense against these types of allegations. Even those who briefly exercised poor judgment should be sure to explore this topic when preparing defense plans.

Theft -- which is sometimes referred to as larceny -- is considered a property crime. Proving that a theft occurred takes a lot more than just demonstrating that a defendant had possession of a property at a certain time. According to California law, a theft cannot occur unless a person intended to take another person's property. This means that a prosecutor has to prove that a defendant had intent, which can be difficult to demonstrate.

The term "property" can apply to more than just physical items and money. In California, a person can be arrested and charged with theft for stealing the value of services or labor. In other situations, a person might be accused of theft for a refusal to return property that he or she was only temporarily entrusted with.

A defendant might be charged with either petty or grand theft, each of which can carry significant criminal consequences. Defenses against these charges can vary and may include assertions of entrapment or lack of intent. Defendants must also decide how to proceed in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for their unique situations. A knowledgeable attorney might be able to provide invaluable guidance when dealing with this type of difficult situation. 

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