Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Petty Theft in Los Angeles

Posted on: February 18, 2009 at 9:20 a.m.

The city of Los Angeles is known for its shopping, and the city is covered in malls from Santa Monica to Riverside. As a result, there are numerous petty theft crimes every year, and Los Angeles theft crime attorneys often represent those accused of committing petty theft crimes.

Petty theft is a seemingly small crime with potentially serious consequences. In its most basic form, theft is, of course, stealing. Petty theft is generally defined as the stealing of goods whose monetary value is under $500 without the intention of returning them. As an example, if you were at a house party and decided to take a $200 watch from a bedroom without permission, this would be petty theft. If you were to take a more expensive item, say a nice camcorder or some expensive jewelry, this would constitute grand theft in that the goods stolen were worth more than $500.

This is contrasted to burglary, which is stealing something from a place that you were not lawfully allowed to enter such as entering a retail store after hours or breaking into someones home. The differences in the details here can be tricky, and if you have been accused of petty theft, the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between jail time or paying a fine.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will tell you that petty theft can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and the value of the goods stolen. A first-time offender who stole less than $500-worth of goods will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor and be sentenced to pay fines and/or restitution. A deferred judgment or diversion is also a possibility. In this case, you are still required to pay fines, but if you are not arrested for another crime within a specified period of probation, the charge will come off your criminal record. A second offense is more likely to be tried as a felony and will carry the possibility of serving time in jail. Deferred judgment is also not usually an option and the theft will be a permanent mark on your criminal record.

The penalties of petty theft in Los Angeles vary considerably depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and having a solid criminal defense attorney fighting for you is a decision you will not regret. If you have been accused of committing petty theft, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to begin preparing your defense.

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