The criminal offense of theft by larceny is prosecuted in California under the California Penal Code Section 484. Other theories of theft can include:
- Theft by False Pretense
- Theft by Trick, or
- Theft by Embezzlement
If multiple theories of theft are presented at trial, the jury does not need to agree on which form of theft was committed. All the jury must agree on is that an unlawful taking of property occurred. SeePeople v. Counts, 31 Cal.App.4th 785, 792–793 (1995).
California law provides that if a person actually believes that he or she has a right to the property, even if that belief is mistaken or unreasonable, such belief is a defense to theft. See People v. Romo, 220 Cal.App.3d 514, 518 (1990). This defense involving a claim of right makes it clear that the charge of larceny requires an intent to steal and not a mere careless taking away of another’s goods.
Attorney for Theft by Larceny in San Francisco
If you were charged with theft by larceny in San Francisco, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers. 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.
The San Francisco criminal defense attorneys at Ticket Crushers fight petty and grand theft cases in the Hall of Justice Building located at 850 Bryant Street, at all stages of the case. Call us at 1 (866) 842-5384 for a free consultation to discuss the charges and possible defenses in your case.
Elements of Theft by Larceny — Penal Code § 484
The elements of Theft by Larceny under Penal Code § 484 include proof that:
- The defendant took possession of property owned by someone else
- The defendant took the property without the owner’s consent (or without the consent of the owner’s agent)
- When the defendant took the property the defendant intended to either deprive the owner of it permanently or to remove it from the owner’s possession (or the possession of the owner’s agent) for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property, and
- The defendant moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief
The standard jury instructions for theft by larceny under Penal Code § 484 can be found at the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction 1800.
For purposes of California’s theft by larceny statute, the term “agent” is defined as “someone to whom the owner has given complete or partial authority and control over the owner’s property.”
For petty theft, the property taken can be of any value, no matter how slight. To have the requisite intent for theft, the defendant must either intend to deprive the owner permanently or to deprive the owner of a major portion of the property’s value or enjoyment. See People v. Avery, 27 Cal.4th 49, 57–58 (2002).
For a charge of grand theft by larceny, the degree of the charge is determined by the value of the property taken. If the defendant is charged with petty theft by larceny and had a prior conviction, then the penalties are enhanced.
Value of Property in a Theft Case
The property taken must have some intrinsic value, however slight. People v. Franco, 4 Cal.App.3d 535, 542 (1970). Lesser included offenses include:
- Petty Theft — Penal Code § 486 (except when the charge of grand theft is based on the type of property taken)
- Attempted Theft — Penal Code §§ 664, 484
- Taking an Automobile Without Consent — Vehicle Code § 10851
- Auto Tampering — Vehicle Code § 10852
- Misdemeanor Joyriding — Penal Code § 499(b) (bicycle, motorboat, or vessel).
No Need to Use or Benefit From the Property Taken
It does not matter that the person taking the property does not intend to use the property or benefit from it; he or she is guilty of theft if there is intent to permanently deprive the other person of the property. People v. Kunkin, 9 Cal.3d 245, 251 (1973).
For instance, it is not necessarily a defense to the charge of theft that the defendant intended to destroy the property or would not otherwise personally benefit from the property taken. The issue in a theft case is whether the taking intended to deprive the owner of major value or enjoyment.
Finding an Attorney for a Larceny Case in California
If you are charged with theft by larceny, embezzlement, or extortion, then contact an attorney for theft crimes in San Francisco, CA. We represent clients on a wide range of theft charges, from petty theft for shoplifting to more serious theft charges for felony grand theft. We represent clients after an arrest by officers with the San Francisco Police Department or the California State Police.
At Ticket Crushers, 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.
The San Francisco criminal defense attorneys at Ticket Crushers fight theft and larceny cases in the Hall of Justice Building located at 850 Bryant Street, at all stages of the case, including arraignments, preliminary hearings, motion hearings, and trials. Call 1 (866) 842-5384 to discuss your case today.