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Home blog Theft Crimes Petty Theft: How Penalties Can Increase

Petty Theft: How Penalties Can Increase

By Michael Guisti on July 7, 2017

handcuffsAs you may know, California differentiates theft into two categories: petty and grand. Petty theft is usually theft of property under $950 (with specific exceptions to this rule) and grand usually refers to theft over $950.

Petty theft may sound small, but the consequences are not. In fact, there are different scenarios when the penalties are increased. Let’s take a look at different California codes and how they punish petty theft violations.

First-Time Offender

According to Penal Code 490.1, a person with no prior theft or theft-related convictions may qualify for a reduced penalty. This applies in cases where the value of what was taken is less than $50 in money, labor, real or personal property. Under this law, a misdemeanor charge can get reduced to an infraction. This could lessen the fine to a maximum of $250.

Prior Offender

Conversely, repeat offenders face increased penalties. According to California Penal Code 666, a petty crime can warrant more jail time or penalties if the person has previously been convicted for:

  • Petty or grand theft
  • Burglary or robbery
  • Carjacking
  • Another felony violation

This code also applies to people who have been required to register themselves because of the Sex Offender Registration Act. They, too, are “prior offenders.”

Multiple Charges

The penalties grow if there are multiple charges of theft (this applies to both petty and grand). In addition to this, penalties may increase if the theft is over the statutory minimums. For example, the jail time that a person might face increases depending on the value of the property stolen. Some of these amounts include:

  • One more year if loss is more than $65,000
  • Two more years if loss is more than $200,000
  • Three more years if loss is more than $1,300,000

Additional terms can also be added if the theft was a part of a scheme or plan, no matter if the theft was petty or grand. These rules are covered in California Penal Code 12022.6

Legal Aid

Even petty theft charges can be very serious. Because dealing with criminal court is complicated, it is beneficial to have an experienced lawyer on your side who knows the California codes and how to apply them on your behalf.

At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we are experienced and motivated to help in cases of petty theft. If you are dealing with the effects of petty theft (whether you are wrongly accused or if something of yours is believed to be stolen), don’t hesitate to call us at (888) 478-8999 for a free consultation.

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