Theft Offenses

In the State of California, theft occurs when one person permanently takes someone else’s property or permanently withholds the owner’s right to the property. Theft is a complex charge that includes many forms and degrees of severity. It may involve money, personal property, real property, or the value of labor or services. Theft may occur without the owner’s knowledge, and it can also occur when property has been loaned to someone else who refuses to return it.

Though theft and larceny were once handled as separate crimes, they are now treated similarly in modern Penal Code. In fact, any crime involving larceny, embezzlement, or stealing are treated as theft. The degree of a theft charge is determined by the value of the property involved. The two degrees of theft in California are petty theft and grand theft.


Petty Theft

Petty theft is the lesser of the two degrees of theft, and generally includes theft where the value of the property is less than $950. Under certain conditions, a petty theft charge may be increased to grand theft. In California, a petty theft conviction may result in a fine of up to $1,000, a prison term of up to six months, or both. If the crime involved less than $50 of property, the defendant may be charged with a misdemeanor or infraction that carries a fine of $250, but prior criminal history will affect the prosecutor’s decision.


Grand Theft

Grand theft may be charged if the property in question is worth $950 or more. In addition, petty theft may be charged as grand theft if the property involves over $250 worth of domestic livestock, farm good, or agricultural products; any property that is a car, horse, livestock, or firearm; any property taken from the victim’s person; and over $950 in labor performed over a 12-month period. Punishment for grand theft is imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or felony sentencing. Felony sentencing may range from six months to three years, although prior convictions can increase the severity—for example, imprisonment in state prison instead of county jail.



Robbery is a specific form of theft that occurs when one person takes property from another by means of force or fear. Robbery can be charged as first degree or second degree, which depends on the circumstances of the robbery. First degree generally includes robberies committed in a home or vessel, against the operator of a vehicle such as a bus or taxicab, or robbery of someone using an ATM machine. Punishment for first-degree robbery is a sentence in state prison for three, six, or nine years. Second-degree robbery carries a lesser sentence, punishable by imprisonment in state prison for two, three, or five years.


Defense of Theft Offenses

Mr. Rosenblum’s record defending theft offenses is unparalleled. If you have been charged with theft, Mr. Rosenblum’s experience, knowledge, and personal service can help you achieve the best possible outcome.