California Theft Crimes and Specific Intent: How a Skilled Attorney Can Win Your Case

By: Wallin & Klarich

To a person unfamiliar with the law, theft in California may seem to be a very simple and easy-to-prove crime when in fact, it is not. To convict a person of theft, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that a person took property that did not belong to him or her with “the specific intent” to permanently deprive the true owner of that property.

The key element is the specific intent of the alleged thief. To be guilty, a person must have the mental state of intending to permanently take the property. It is not the crime of theft to take property with the intent of returning it. This means you cannot be convicted of grand theft auto if you take your neighbor’s car and go for a drive around the block; as long as you intended to return the car. (However, just because this example isn’t theft doesn’t make it legal! Here, you could be convicted of another crime, such as joyriding.)

If you are ever accused of committing a theft crime, it is important to remember the key element of specific intent. If you placed a candy bar in your pocket at the grocery store with the intent of paying for it, but forgot it was there and walked out, that is not theft! Never admit to store security, police or anyone that you intentionally stole something. Never sign anything admitting guilt.

If you have been charged with a theft crime, it is important you retain an experienced attorney, like those at Wallin & Klarich, to fight your case. For you to be found guilty, the prosecution has the high burden of proving that at the time you took the property, you had the mental state of intending to permanently take that property from the true owner. With over 30 years of experience, the skilled theft crime defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have dealt with cases just like yours before. Our aggressive attorneys are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to advise you on your case. Call us today at 1-888-280-6839 or visit us online at to learn more about your case and what can be done.

Posted In: Criminal Defense