January 2, 2024 By Wallin & Klarich

When Does Petty Theft Become A Felony?

Petty theft generally applies to shoplifting instances. Petty theft is the taking of property valued at less than $950, and it is considered a misdemeanor in California. However, if the accused has two prior convictions for petty theft or grand theft, then it could be charged as a felony. There are other circumstances that can make petty theft a felony, such as the theft of certain types of property like guns or animals. 

If you are facing felony charges for petty theft in California, it’s important to understand that you face serious penalties including prison time if convicted. To best protect your rights and interests, you should seek experienced legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in California law. An attorney can help you understand your rights, provide legal advice and guidance throughout the process, and work to defend your case. 

Choosing Wallin & Klarich to represent your case puts you in a better position to receive the best outcome for your case. We have over 40 years of experience in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL  for your free appeal consultation!


The sentencing for a theft crime will vary depending on how it is classified. For example, petty theft carries a maximum penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Grand theft carries a penalty of up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, grand theft is punishable under the Three Strikes Law, which could carry additional severe penalties depending on if you’ve been convicted of crimes in the past. 

If convicted of a felony in California, you may not only face potential imprisonment but also other consequences such as being barred from certain professions, having difficulty finding employment, losing certain civil liberties such as voting or owning a firearm, etc. Therefore, it’s important to have a seasoned criminal defense attorney by your side to work towards the best outcome for your case. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have the experience you need for your case. Plus, we offer exceptional service, experience, and affordable payment options to help you manage the cost of hiring a defense attorney.

Theft Defenses

There are many defenses you can raise if you have been accused of theft. Some general common defenses include:

  • Lack of specific intent
  • Lack of asportation
  • Claim of Right: you believe you have a right to the property

Additionally, for grand theft, another defense is authorization of use. This means you had a good faith belief that you were authorized to use the property. 

Because many of these defenses are very subjective and will vary depending on the specific facts of a case, it is important to have a skilled defense attorney on your side. Your defense attorney will be able to look at the specific facts of your case and determine which defense(s) will be the best to raise. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over four decades of experience representing cases like yours. Call our office today for a free consultation!

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have been accused of a theft crime, you need an aggressive defense attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced to a lesser degree. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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