Theft Related Charges


In California, theft charges include a wide variety of charges. Theft charges in Los Angeles and Orange County include crimes such as petty theft, grand theft, shoplifting, unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle, grand theft auto, forgery, embezzlement, check fraud, credit card fraud, health care fraud, insurance fraud, auto fraud, welfare fraud, and identity theft. Some of these charges such as petty theft or shoplifting will be charged as misdemeanors, while the others can be charged in California as either misdemeanors or felonies. The classification of these charges will largely depend on the value of what is alleged to have been stolen as well as the defendant’s prior criminal record. The elements for theft related charges can vary but they share similar characteristics.


In California, theft is generally defined as a defendant intentionally permanently taking or withholding the property of another person without their consent. The specifics of a theft will dictate the actual charges that are ultimately filed against you. For example, a theft of something worth over $950 will result in California grand theft charges being filed. Grand theft charges can be filed as either felonies or misdemeanors in California. Thefts of specific items such as an automobile also have their own code sections and can likewise be filed as misdemeanors or felonies in California. Los Angeles theft charges will often include other charges such as forgery, fraud, or burglary. Here are some specific examples of various theft charges in the Los Angeles area.

Petty Theft

A Gardena defendant is accused of stealing a laptop computer from a bag at a restaurant. The Gardena Police Department determines the value of the computer is $700. In this situation, it is likely that a petty theft charge (California Penal Code Section 484(a)) would be filed against the defendant in the Torrance Courthouse. As a Gardena criminal defense attorney, I have extensive experience in the Torrance Courthouse and it was actually one of my assigned courthouse as a former Los Angeles district attorney. .

Grand Theft

A Long Beach defendant is accused of stealing a bracelet from the purse of a stranger at the mall. The Long Beach Police Department values the item at $1,500. Because the value of the bracelet is over $950, it is likely that grand theft charges (California Penal Code Section 487) will be filed against the defendant at the Long Beach Courthouse. I have extensive experience working as a Long Beach criminal defense attorney and regularly appear at the Long Beach Courthouse.

Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle

A Santa Monica defendant is pulled over by the Santa Monica Police Department in a car that is not his and the car has been reported stolen. The owner of the car tells the police that the defendant did not have permission to drive the car, but does not know who initially stole the car. Because there is no evidence that the defendant was the initial person that stole the car, he is likely to instead be charged with unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle (California Penal Code Section 10851(a)) in Santa Monica and charges will be filed at the Airport Courthouse. I regularly appear as a Santa Monica criminal defense attorney at that courthouse.

Grand Theft Auto

A Compton defendant is stopped by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in a car that has been reported stolen an hour before. The owner of the car has surveillance video showing the Compton defendant breaking into the car and stealing it. Unlike the above situation with the Santa Monica defendant, evidence exists showing that this defendant was the actual person to initially steal the car. Thus, he is likely to be charged with grand theft auto (California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1)) in the Compton Courthouse. The defendant will need to immediately retain a Compton criminal defense attorney. I have extensive experience as a Compton criminal defense attorney and have conducted numerous trials at that location.


The final step of any Los Angeles or Orange County theft prosecution is a trial. Most cases do not result in a trial but it is still crucial to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is ready and able to take a theft case to trial. The reality is that you will not receive the prosecutor’s best possible offer unless the government believes that you have an attorney with the ability to win at trial. I have experience as a Manhattan Beach theft attorney in every step of the criminal process from before the case has been filed all the way through trial across the Southern California area. Contact me today so that I can learn more about your individual case and begin to put my experience and skills to work for you.

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