Theft Crimes

Criminal charges for theft, including both misdemeanor and felony offenses, are serious. A conviction for a theft crime, including shoplifting, is considered a conviction for a “crime of dishonesty” that must be disclosed on many job applications. A conviction for any theft crime might show up on even the most basic background check. For this reason, avoiding a conviction is extremely important.

Although most theft cases involve shoplifting or petty theft, more serious offenses for grand theft, embezzlement, or extortion can involve large sums of money taken over a long period of time.

The District Attorney’s Office in San Francisco has several diversion programs to deal with these types of charges for a first-time offense. An experienced attorney can help you understand the different options and how to resolve your case under the best possible terms.

Attorney for Theft in San Francisco, CA

If you were charged with theft in the City of San Francisco, or the surrounding areas throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers. Call us today at 1 (866) 842-5384 to discuss your case.

Our offices are located on Geary Boulevard near Park Presidio in San Francisco, CA. We serve clients throughout the City of San Francisco and the surrounding areas, including Alameda County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Contra Costa County, CA. We represent clients at all stages of the case in the Hall of Justice Building located at 850 Bryant Street, including arraignments, preliminary hearings, motion hearings, probation violation hearings, and trials.

Our San Francisco Theft Attorneys can help you understand the charge against you, possible defenses, and the potential penalties that could apply. Find out what you might need to do right now to protect yourself against the accusation and assert your rights.


Types of Theft Crimes in California

Traditionally, several different types of theft crimes were prosecuted in the State of California including:

Theft crimes can also involve the taking of or tampering with a vehicle under the following provisions:

  • 1820 — Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle (Vehicle Code §§ 10851(a) & (b))
  • 1821 — Tampering With a Vehicle (Vehicle Code § 10852)
  • 1822 — Unlawful Taking of a Bicycle or Vessel (Penal Code § 499(b))

Related offenses include extortion crimes, which can be charged as:

  • 1830 — Extortion by Threat or Force (Penal Code §§ 518 & 519)
  • 1831 — Extortion by Threatening Letter (Penal Code § 523)
  • 1832 — Extortion of Signature (Penal Code § 522)

California’s Distinction between Grand Theft and Petty Theft

After the passage of Proposition 47, (Penal Code Section 490.2), theft is defined in Penal Code Section 487 as a misdemeanor unless the value of the property taken exceeds $950 (Penal Code § 490.2). Prior to Proposition 47, grand theft was defined under Penal Code Sections 487(b)-(d).

The distinction between grand theft and petty theft is very important. The crime can be charged as grand theft if it is alleged that the value of the property or services is more than $950. Grand theft charges can also apply to the taking of certain types of property of any value or the manner of taking.

The value of any item enumerated in Penal Code § 487(b)(1)(B) may be established by evidence proving that on the day of the theft, the same items of the same variety and weight as those stolen had a wholesale value of more than $950. The value of the property or services is the fair market value of the property or market wage for the services performed.

The standard jury instructions for Grand Theft and Petty Theft under Penal Code §§ 486, 487, 488, 490.2, and 491 can be found at the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction 1801, which were last revised in August 2015.


The Definition of Fair Market Value in a Theft Case

Under California’s theft statutes, fair market value is defined as “the highest price the property would reasonably have been sold for in the open market at the time of, and in the general location of, the theft.”

Fair market value is the price a reasonable buyer and seller would agree on if the buyer wanted to buy the property and the seller wanted to sell it, but neither was under an urgent need to buy or sell.


Value of Written Instrument in California Theft Cases

If the thing stolen is evidence of a debt or some other written instrument, its value is:

  • The amount due or secured that is unpaid, or that might be collected in any contingency
  • The value of the property, title to which is shown in the instrument; or
  • The sum that might be recovered in the instrument’s absence

Written instruments can include a trust deed securing debt, promissory notes and contracts securing debt, or unpaid bank checks.

If evidence of a debt or right of action is embezzled, its value is the sum due on or secured by the instrument; (See Penal Code § 514). Section 492 only applies if the written instrument has value and is taken from a victim.


The Impact of Proposition 47 on Theft Crimes in California

Proposition 47 allows a defendant to petition for resentencing if he or she is serving a sentence for a crime that Proposition 47 now designates as a misdemeanor. (§ 1170.18, subd. (a)).

Section 1170.18, subdivision (a), identifies those crimes by statute: “Sections 11350, 11357, or 11377 of the Health and Safety Code, or Section 459.5, 473, 476a, 490.2, 496, or 666 of the Penal Code, as those sections have been amended or added by this act.”

Section 1170.18 does include several theft-related offenses that qualify for misdemeanor sentencing if the property in question had a value less than $950 such as:

  • § 459.5 for shoplifting;
  • § 473 for forgery;
  • § 476a for issuing checks without sufficient funds;
  • § 490.2 for petty theft; and
  • § 496 for receiving stolen property.

Additional Resources

Financial Crimes Unit for Theft Crimes in San Francisco — Visit the website of the San Francisco Police Department to learn more about theft crimes investigated by its Financial Crimes Unit. The unit is tasked with the investigation of financial crimes to include but not limited to: theft by false pretense or deceit, Internet fraud, elder financial abuse, check fraud, counterfeit currency, counterfeit trademark, non-return of rental property, real estate and notary fraud, embezzlement, false financial statements, forgery, and identity theft.

Hall of Justice
Financial Crimes Unit of the San Francisco Police Department
850 Bryant Street, Room 500
San Francisco, CA 94103
Main Telephone No.: (415) 553-1521
Fax No.: (415) 553-9526
Unit hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Finding an Attorney for Theft in San Francisco, CA

If you were charged with any type of theft in San Francisco, including shoplifting, larceny, embezzlement, or extortion, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers.  We represent clients on misdemeanor charges for petty theft and serious felony offenses for grand theft.

It is also important to seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have any prior offenses for theft on your record. The laws in the State of California provide for enhanced penalties for a petty theft involving a prior offense, which can be prosecuted as a felony under Penal Code § 666.

Our offices are located on Geary Boulevard near Park Presidio in San Francisco, CA. We serve clients throughout the City of San Francisco and the surrounding areas including, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Contra Costa County, CA.

Our San Francisco attorneys fight theft crimes in the Hall of Justice Building in San Francisco, CA. Call us to discuss the charges against you and possible defenses that might apply. Whether this is your first offense or you have a prior record, call Ticket Crushers at 1 (866) 842-5384 to discuss your case today. Let us put our experience to work for you.