Home State CrimesTheft Crime

Los Angeles Theft Defense Lawyers


Defending Against Theft Charges in Los Angeles

Theft charges can have a substantial impact on your life in terms of jail time, fines, and reputation. For those who aren’t US citizens, a theft crime charge can significantly impact your immigration status. A conviction of theft, from shoplifting up through grand theft, can spread through social media and the news like wildfire unless handled with the utmost discretion and professionalism.

At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we represent clients in matters of great personal consequence to give them the best possible outcome in their case. Whether you’re a celebrity, politician, or anyone else who’s been accused of theft and needs top-level defense, we urge you to connect with our legal team at once.

Back to Top

Burglary

Burglary and shoplifting are the two ends of the spectrum when it comes to charges of attempted thievery. Charges of burglary and shoplifting are often combined with theft charges and can be filed even if no items were actually stolen.

Burglary is defined in California Penal Code PC 459 as trespassing on another’s property with the intent to steal or commit any other felony. Burglary can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony and is punishable by:

  • If the burglary occurred in a residence, it is always classified as a felony and can result in a state prison sentence of two, four, or six years.
  • If the burglary occurred in any other type of location, it can be either a felony or misdemeanor and is punishable by a jail sentence of one year, sixteen months, two years, or three years.

Back to Top

Shoplifting

Shoplifting is the lower end of the spectrum and is defined in California Penal Code PC 495.5 as entering a commercial establishment during regular business hours with the intent to steal property with a value of $950 or less. If the intent is to steal property with a higher value, it is considered burglary.

Stealing something on the “spur of the moment” would be classified as either petty theft or grand theft, depending on the value of the property. Shoplifting is generally classified as a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If, however, you have certain prior convictions, you can be charged with felony shoplifting, which can be punished by up to three years in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Back to Top

Common Defenses for Burglary & Shoplifting

There are several common defenses for burglary and shoplifting, which include:

  • You did not intend to commit a crime when you entered the property
  • That you believed the items you took belonged to you or that you had a legitimate claim to them
  • You did not commit the crime, and it is a case of mistaken identity

Back to Top

Petty Theft & Grand Theft

“Petty theft” and “grand theft” are defined in California Penal Code PC 488 and California Penal Code PC 487 respectively, and in summary are defined as:

  • Petty theft: The unlawful taking of property worth $950 or less, whether by larceny, embezzlement, or any other form of unlawful obtainment.
  • Grand theft: The unlawful taking of property worth more than $950, whether by larceny, embezzlement, or any other form of illegal obtainment.

Petty theft is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Grand theft in California can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor grand theft is punishable by up to one year in county jail, and felony grand theft is punishable by sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison.

Common defenses for petty and grand theft include:

  • You didn’t intend to steal the item
  • The item(s) stolen was legally yours
  • You only borrowed the item
  • The owner of the property allowed you to take it
  • The accusation is false

Back to Top

Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving stolen property is defined in California Penal Code PC 498 as the buying, receiving, concealing, or selling any property known to be stolen. A charge of receiving stolen property can be treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A charge of misdemeanor stolen property is punishable by up to one year in prison, and a felony stolen property charge can result in up to three years in jail.

Common defenses for receiving stolen property include:

  • That you were unaware that the property was stolen
  • That your action was unintentional
  • That you didn’t actually “receiving” any property

Back to Top

Contact Us

If you’ve been charged with a theft crime, your first move should be retaining knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel. Our criminal defense team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is one of the top criminal defense firms in the nation, providing discreet and effective criminal defense. Contact us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation.

Back to Top

Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

Recent Case Results

  • Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
    Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
  • Decision Set Aside
    Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
  • Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
    Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.
+ More Case Results