California Penal Code Section 484 addresses the crime of petty theft, a commonly encountered legal matter that can have significant consequences if not handled properly. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the specifics of this statute, shedding light and information on what constitutes petty theft and its potential penalties in the state of California.
Petty theft, specifically defined under California Penal Code Section 484, involves unlawfully taking someone else’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its possession. This offense typically involves items of relatively low value, distinguishing it from grand theft, which involves more substantial property or monetary amounts.
The prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime in order to be charged with petty theft in California:
1. Unlawful Taking: The accused took possession of another person’s property without permission.
2. Owner’s Intent to Deprive: The individual intended to permanently deprive the owner of their property.
3. Value of Stolen Items: The value of the stolen property must generally be $950 or less. If the value exceeds this amount, the offense may be charged as grand theft.
Petty theft is typically considered a misdemeanor offense in California. If convicted, potential penalties may include:
In some cases, individuals charged with petty theft crimes might be eligible for diversion programs. What is a Criminal Diversion Program, you ask? Let’s break it down.
There are different types of diversion programs available in California, including:
Pretrial Diversion: This program allows individuals to avoid formal criminal charges and court proceedings by completing specific requirements, such as drug treatment, counseling, community service, or educational programs. Successfully completing this diversion program could lead to the dismissal of your charges.
Deferred Entry of Judgment: DEJ, often used for drug-related offenses, allows individuals to enter a plea of guilty or no contest. Judgment is defered while completing a substance abuse treatment program, and if successfully completed, the charges may be dismissed.
Mental Health Diversion: This program is designed for individuals with mental health issues who are charged with certain offenses. It focuses on treatment and rehabilitation rather than criminal punishment.
Veterans Court Diversion: This program is specifically for veterans who have been charged with certain offenses. It provides veterans with access to mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and other resources to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their criminal behavior.
Youth Diversion Programs: California also has diversion programs for juveniles who have committed low-level offenses. These programs aim to provide counseling, education, and support to help young offenders avoid further involvement in the criminal justice system.
Several defenses can be employed against petty theft charges, particularly lack of intent, mistaken identity, and consent from the property owner. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to evaluate the best defense strategy based on the specific circumstances of the case. Feel free to contact my office with any questions your might have regarding your criminal case.
California Penal Code Section 484 outlines the offense of petty theft, which involves unlawfully taking property of minimal value with the intent to permanently deprive the owner. If you or someone you know is facing petty theft charges, seeking legal counsel from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is essential. They can especially help navigate the legal process, protect your rights, and explore potential diversion programs or defenses, to achieve the best possible outcome.
Remember, understanding the law and having proper legal representation can make a significant difference in the resolution of your case. Give me a call today to talk about your case (559) 340-4529 or shoot me a text at (559) 364-3244.
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