Penal Code 484 PC | Petty Theft
Penal Code 484 PC | Petty Theft
Petty theft is a common offense that many people don’t take seriously. But in California, petty theft is punishable under Penal Code 484 PC as a misdemeanor that can result in up to 6 months in county jail. So don’t underestimate those petty theft charges!
This article will cover everything you need to know about California’s petty theft law. We’ll discuss what is considered petty theft, penalties, defenses, and more. Let’s start with the basics.
What is Petty Theft Under Penal Code 484 PC?
Petty theft is the stealing of money, labor, or property valued at $950 or less. It can include:
- Stealing a bicycle
- Taking cash or property worth $950 or less
- Stealing services like refusing to pay for a taxi or dine-and-dash
Petty theft becomes grand theft, a wobbler offense, if the value exceeds $950. Wobblers can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies.
Legal Definition of Petty Theft in California
Under Penal Code 484 PC, California law defines petty theft as:
The taking of personal property of another worth $950 or less without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Let’s break this down into the elements that make up a petty theft charge:
- Taking personal property of another – you took something that didn’t belong to you
- Worth $950 or less – the value makes it a petty offense and not grand theft
- Without consent – the owner didn’t give you permission to take it
- Intent to permanently deprive – you meant to permanently keep the property from the rightful owner
All these elements must be present for a prosecutor to convict you of petty theft under 484 PC.
Penalties for Petty Theft in California
Petty theft is a misdemeanor in California punishable by:
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- A max $1,000 fine (higher for repeat offenses)
- Informal probation
- Restitution to the victim
Penalties increase if you have prior theft convictions on your record. Petty theft with a prior can lead to up to 1 year in jail.
Some examples of petty theft sentences include:
- First offense – 1 day jail and $235 fine
- Second offense – 90 days jail and $500 fine
- Third offense – 180 days jail and $1,000 fine
As you can see, those penalties add up fast! Multiple petty thefts on your record can really hurt you.
Common Defenses Against Petty Theft Charges
Some common defenses that your California criminal defense lawyer may use include:
- You had consent – For example, your friend let you borrow their bicycle. So you weren’t stealing it.
- Lack of intent – You didn’t intend to permanently keep the property. For example, you accidentally put an item in your pocket and forgot about it.
- Mistake of fact – You had a reasonable but mistaken belief that you had consent. Like grabbing your roommate’s jacket thinking it was yours.
- False accusations – The alleged victim is falsely accusing you of theft out of anger, revenge, or mental illness.
An experienced petty theft lawyer can evaluate the evidence and build a strong defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Petty theft charges can also lead to additional related offenses like:
- Receiving stolen property – Penal Code 496 PC makes it illegal to receive property you know is stolen. Even if you weren’t the one who stole it originally.
- Possession of burglary tools – Penal Code 466 PC prohibits having tools for burglary, theft or fraud. Things like lock picks, crowbars, or card skimmers.
- Trespassing – Entering private property to steal can lead to trespassing charges under Penal Code 602 PC.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can help defend against these related charges as well.
Penal Code 484 PC Petty Theft Can Have Serious Consequences
At first glance, petty theft may not seem like a big deal. But don’t underestimate those charges! Petty theft convictions can hurt you for years to come. They can:
- Make it harder to get a job
- Prevent you from getting professional licenses
- Increase penalties for future offenses
- Get you kicked off rental agreements or insurance plans
- Lead to deportation if you are a non-citizen
Plus you want to avoid a criminal record if possible. An exeperienced criminal defense lawyer can help you fight the charges. They may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed so there is little long-term impact. Don’t wait to get help!
Fighting Petty Theft Charges with an Attorney
If you are facing charges for petty theft under Penal Code 484 PC, don’t go it alone. Hire an attorney to protect your rights. A skilled lawyer can:
- Conduct an independent investigation of the allegations
- Negotiate with the prosecutor for charge reduction or dismissal
- Suppress evidence that was illegally obtained
- Build a strong defense to beat the charges at trial
- Advocate for minimal penalties if convicted
Having an attorney in your corner can make all the difference in how your case turns out. Don’t take chances with your future. Fight back and protect yourself today.