Accused of Theft? Understand the Different Types of Charges

Theft is a crime as old as the ages, and of course most of us are familiar with archaic sentencing that used to be handed out, such as cutting off the hands of thief. Undoubtedly, that would teach a lesson to anyone engaged in taking property from another, but today sentencing tends to lean toward financial penalties and incarceration.

Another term for theft is larceny—and although it sounds much more extreme, the terms are defined the same way, referring to property stolen valued under $950 (and usually categorized as petty theft). Grand larceny ups the ante significantly, once items over $950 have been taken. You may be familiar with the term ‘grand theft auto’ also, meaning that a car has been taken without consent—and possibly with the idea of ‘permanently depriving the owner of the car.’ Grand theft auto is more common in areas with substantial crime, as well as the proximity and availability of chop shops where vehicles can be taken apart and sold. No matter how much the car is worth, if it is taken without authorization, it may be a GTA case—and usually, a felony.

Along with theft of possessions and cars, other common types are theft of cash, property, or services. Petty theft may result in jail terms and fines, although a prior criminal record could lead to harsher sentencing. Grand theft brings more serious consequences; in fact, such crimes can be punishable by up to a year in county jail. The crime may also merit a prison term if there are prior convictions.

Some areas in California are seeing a rise in property crime unfortunately—such as neighborhoods close to Los Angeles, where property crime has increased by 19 percent. Smash and grabs are common modes of theft, often so that items can be stolen out of cars. In some cases, those responsible for petty thefts may have mental disorders that cause them to take items they don’t even need and have no intention of using. Teenagers may be pushing the limits or crying out for attention when their home lives are challenging—or some individuals (of any age) may be suffering from full-blown kleptomania.

If you need legal assistance with a criminal matter, please call the Dolan Law Offices now. We will listen carefully to your concerns, review your case, and offer advice based on many years of experience. John Patrick Dolan understands California’s complex criminal defense laws including white collar crimes, DUI, domestic violence, sexual assault charges, and violent & serious felonies. At the Dolan Law Offices, we provide the experience you need to help you fight for your rights and best interests. Call us at (760) 775-3739 or contact us online as soon as possible.


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