A violation of Penal Code Section 484, also known as a "Petty Theft," is a significant criminal offense for many reasons. First and foremost, it can have far reaching consequences including jail time, probation and extensive fines.
In order to prove that a person is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1. The suspect took possession of property owned by someone else;
2. The suspect took the property without the owner's consent;
3. When the suspect took the property (he/she) intended to deprive the owner of it permanently;
4. The suspect moved the property (even small distances will count) and kept it for any period of time, however brief.
Intent to Deprive
The prosecution evaluation revolves around one key issues in these types of cases- the suspect's intent. If a person actually believes that he or she has a right to the property even if that belief is mistaken or unreasonable, such belief is a defense to theft. Also, the courts have held the defendant must intend to deprive the owner permanently.
Often cases like these turn on whether the Prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual suspected of theft intended to take these items permanently. Some cases, such as shoplifting fall apart when it becomes clear that the individual was confronted while still in the store because the Prosecution cannot meet this burden.
Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft
For misdemeanor petty theft, the item taken can be of any value, however slight. For instances where the value of the stolen item is greater than $950, a felony charge of Grand Theft may be utilized to prosecute instead.
While the immediate consequences of a Petty Theft charges are potentially devastating, there are long term potential consequences that also will affect your life. Specifically, if the defendant is charged with petty theft in the future and already has a prior conviction, the offense can and likely will be charged as a felony.
Get Trusted Defense
There is nothing "petty" about a Petty Theft charge. At the Law Offices of Jarrod M. Wilfert, we confront any and all accusations against our clients as if our reputation as a premiere Ventura County Criminal Defense firm depends on their defense because we know it does.
If you, or a loved one, are facing criminal charges such as a Petty Theft, do not wait. Consult now with an experienced Ventura County criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Jarrod M. Wilfert, we have decades of experience in criminal law. We know how cases are investigated, how they are prosecuted and how they can be defended. Please take this opportunity to give us a call at (805) 901-9119 for a FREE consultation with an experienced Ventura theft attorney.