Theft Crime Defense

Theft Crime Defense

Theft crimes are a general category of crimes which encompass a wide range of specific charges, each with varying degrees of consequence. For example, shoplifting or petty theft can carry mild life consequences, while multi-million-dollar white-collar fraud crimes like embezzlement can lead to years in prison. Robbery, burglary, auto theft, and identity theft are other types of theft crimes, each charged under specific sections of the California Penal code or federal statute.

Theft crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, and the penalty for an individual theft crime will vary based on the seriousness of the crime and the value of the property taken. Nevertheless, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, all theft crimes are classified as crimes of moral turpitude, meaning that a conviction can have a negative effect on one’s employment or immigration status, and can also increase the risk of losing one’s professional license.

It is for these reasons that it is crucial to hire an attorney who can forcefully advocate for you early in the legal process. An effective attorney may be able to obtain a reduction in the seriousness of the charge or even an outright dismissal of the charge.

How the Law Offices of David A. Stein Can Help You With a Theft Charge

David Stein has successfully represented numerous individuals facing charges ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies, including theft. His legal expertise and his relationships with judges and prosecutors have resulted in dismissals of charges for hundreds of clients.

The Law Offices of David A. Stein, located in Irvine, is available to our clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Before talking to law enforcement, call for a free consultation about your case at 949-445-0040. We will explain your options, tell you what to expect with a theft charge, and advise you of the best course of action. Avoid excessive or unjust penalties that can jeopardize your future. You can also reach us online by email here.

What is a Theft Crime in California?

In California, theft is generally defined as the stealing, taking, carrying way, or driving away personal property belonging to another; fraudulently taking possession of property entrusted to you; or defrauding someone of money, labor, or real or personal property.

How David Stein Can Defend You Against a Theft Crime

Mr. Stein will begin defending you immediately. His skill at navigating the Orange County criminal law system means he can successfully respond to prosecutors’ charges and proactively work to alleviate the impact that a criminal charge can have on your life and future. David Stein is distinguished as a top-100 trial lawyer in California. California.

In the vast majority of cases, Mr. Stein is able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Mr. Stein may also negotiate to get you probation, little or no jail time, work projects, or community service in lieu of jail time. If your case does go to trial, Mr. Stein will prepare and present a shrewd and forceful case for your innocence.

Call the Irvine Law Offices of David Stein today for a no-cost consultation about your case at 949.445.0040. We are available 24/7 to help you mitigate the consequences of a theft criminal charge.

Mr. Stein will:

  • Listen to you and respond decisively to capitalize on your options.
  • Protect you from coercion by law enforcement during investigation or questioning.
  • Exercise his long-standing relationships and experience with Orange County prosecutors.
  • Aggressively negotiate the charges and pleas.

Contact David Stein by confidential email here, or call 949.445-0040 today to protect your rights and your legal options.

Common Types of Theft Crimes and Penalties in California


Petty Theft Involves the taking of property valued at $950 or less. Petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor and may carry a sentence of 6 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1000. If the value of the property is $50 or less, the charge can be reduced to an infraction, carrying a $250 fine. Grand Theft The value of the property taken is greater than $950. Grand theft is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction carries up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine. Penalties for a felony conviction are up to three years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. There are various enhancements for grand theft charges that impose additional penalties. Firearms grand theft is always treated as a felony.
Shoplifting Usually charged as petty theft. However, based on the value of the stolen property (or if there is a prior criminal record), shoplifting may be charged as a felony. Penalties range from a $250 fine for an infraction to up to three years in state prison. Grand Theft Auto Taking and driving a motor vehicle
without the permission of the owner, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle.

The circumstances of the case will determine the type of grand theft auto charges filed and the potential penalties. Factors considered include the type of vehicle taken; whether the taking of the vehicle was intended to be temporary or permanent; and the value of the vehicle.

A conviction can result in three years of prison and additional fines, probation, and/or community service.

Robbery Robbery is a serious and “violent felony” offense subject to California’s Three Strikes law. Robbery is the taking of personal property by the use of force or fear from a person or his immediate possession. Robbery is distinctly different from a burglary charge. Robbery requires the element of force or fear to take property, while burglary is the act of illegally entering a dwelling with the intent to steal or commit another crime. A person can be simultaneously charged with burglary and robbery.

Most robberies or attempted robberies are “second degree” crimes, punishable by two, three, or five years in prison. A first-degree robbery sentence carries a three, six, or nine-year penalty. Sentencing for either first or second-degree can be “enhanced” with additional time, depending on the circumstances. For example the use of a gun can add up to 10 years to the sentence, and firing a gun can add 20 years to the sentence

Burglary Entering a structure or vehicle with the intent to steal property or to commit a felony is burglary in California.

Burglary can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. First-degree burglary is always a felony in Orange County and is considered a “strike” under the Three Strikes law. Second-degree burglary typically involves illegal entry into a commercial facility and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Penalties for first-degree convictions are up to six years in state prison and harsh fines. A second-degree burglary conviction can result in one to three years in prison and additional probation.

Embezzlement A type of theft involving financial fraud. Embezzlement is considered a non-violent crime and is often called a “white-collar” crime. Depending on the circumstances and the amount of loss to the victim, an embezzlement charge may be filed as a misdemeanor of a felony. Petty theft embezzlement is a misdemeanor that can carry a penalty of up to one year in jail, probation, and/or a fine up to $1000. Grand theft embezzlement may be punishable by a sentence of 16 months to three years in jail.

Receiving Stolen Property Under California Penal Code 496, anyone who buys, receives, conceals, or sells any property that is stolen in any way (by theft, extortion, or embezzlement, for example) commits the crime of receiving stolen property. If the value of the goods is $950 or less, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor. If the value exceeds $950, it is charged as a felony.

Penalties for a misdemeanor conviction may include up to one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine. A felony conviction carries a penalty of 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Identity Theft A type of white-collar fraud crime that entails using another person’s personal information without permission for either financial gain or to commit another crime. Forms of identity theft include criminal, medical, and financial identity theft, as well as identity cloning (assuming another’s identity).

If convicted in Orange County, the penalty may include up to three years in prison, a harsh fine, and payment of restitution. Conviction under federal statute may carry a much more severe penalty.

Intellectual Property Theft A broad category encompassing specific types of stealing or infringement on works that are protected by patent, trademark, or copyright laws. Such works include music, artwork, inventions, product design, drugs, written work, graphic design, trademarks or trade secrets.

Today, intellectual property theft can be unintentional and easy to commit, given the ease with which music, photos, or video can be downloaded from the internet. A person may also commit intellectual property theft by the use of file-sharing services and the widespread practice of online sharing and social media.

A charge of intellectual property theft is a serious, legally complex charge that can carry penalties ranging from a harsh fine to a prison sentence from three to 20 years.

Defense Attorney David A. Stein defends criminal charges filed in all Orange County cities, including Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Tustin, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Mission Viejo, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Westminster, Fullerton, Aliso Viejo, Buena Park, and Laguna Beach.

Contact our Irvine office at: (949) 445-0040 or by email here.


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Contact a Dedicated Criminal Attorney

Criminal Law Defense

David Stein is dedicated to defending you in any criminal matter. Contact us today for a free criminal defense consultation. We are available to our clients around the clock.  Call us now at (949) 445-0040.