Articles Posted in Theft & Shoplifting

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According to annual reports, Murrieta ranked far below the national average in every category used to calculate criminal statistics. Thus, it is no surprise that in 2012, Murrieta was ranked as having the seventh lowest crime rate for cities in the United States with a population size of 100,000 to 499,000.

However, larceny crimes are one of the biggest concerns in Murrieta because these crimes totaled nearly 70 percent of all property crimes committed in 2013 to date. As of August 2013, 765 larceny related offenses were committed per Murrieta Police Department reports.

Included in larceny offenses is the crime of shoplifting. Shoplifting is defined as the unlawful taking of another person’s property without that person’s permission. The most common scenarios where shoplifting occurs are in retail stores, drug stores and liquor stores.

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According to the OC Register, more than 100,000 visitors packed into Newport Beach, California to celebrate the Fourth of July in 2012. Newport Beach has approximately 85,000 permanent residents.

If you plan to celebrate this year’s festivities in Newport Beach, remember to party responsibly. The Newport Beach Police Department’s crime statistics indicate that the following five crimes typically experience a significant rise during the month of July:

1. Public Intoxication (California Penal Code section 647(f))


In July 2012, there were a reported 145 public intoxication arrests in Newport Beach. It is interesting to note that this was the only month to see a triple-figure amount for this offense. In fact, no other month saw more than 81 reported public intoxication offenses.

To convict you of public intoxication in Newport Beach, the prosecutor will need to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were willfully under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or a controlled substance;
  • You were in a public place while under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or a controlled substance; AND
  • You were unable to exercise care for your safety or the safety of others; OR
  • You interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a street, sidewalk, or other public way because you were under the influence.

One of our skilled attorneys recently got a public intoxication charge against our client completely dismissed. Our client was facing up to 90 days in county jail and 1-year suspension of his driver’s license if convicted. Due to the attorney’s tremendous efforts, the district attorney agreed to drop the charge after agreeing that the charge could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Click here to continue reading.

2. Petty Theft (California Penal Code section 488)


In July 2012, there were a reported 116 petty thefts in Newport Beach. This accounted for 16% of the city’s petty thefts in 2012.

To convict you of petty theft under PC 488, the prosecutor will need to prove the following elements:

  • You took possession of property owned by someone else;
  • You took possession of the property without the owner’s permission;
  • When you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or remove it from the owner’s possession for an extended period of time such that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.

The prosecutor also carries the significant evidentiary burden of proving three additional facts in order to convict you of petty theft:

  • The stolen property had a market value of $950 or less;
  • The property was not taken directly from the owner (e.g. pickpocketing); AND
  • The property is not of a special type, such as an automobile, firearm, or farm animal.

Recently, an experienced Wallin & Klarich defense attorney helped one of our clients avoid time in a juvenile detention facility after she was accused of petty theft under PC 488. If convicted, our client faced up to 6 months in juvenile detention. The attorney used his extensive legal knowledge to raise a successful objection to the arresting officer’s testimony against our client. Read the full story here.

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When a person is arrested or giving a citation for Riverside petty theft they need to realize this is a serious criminal offense. This is considered a crime of “moral turpitude”. If you are found guilty of this crime, it will remain on your permanent record. If you apply for a job after being convicted of a theft crime it is very unlikely anyone will want to hire you in these difficult economic times. When an employer can choose between 50 qualified applicants why would they select someone who was convicted of theft?

Petty%20theft%2C%20shoplifting%20defense%20Lawyer%20888-280-6839.jpgOur law firm has successfully won dismissals of many petty theft cases where our client’s legal defense was that they did not “intend” to steal the item because it was an “accident”. The prosecution must prove that at the time the accused left the store they had the specific intent to steal the item in order to obtain a conviction. If the jury believes that in fact your conduct was “accidental” in nature then the chances of you being found not guilty are high. In some cases we can convince the District Attorney to drop the charges when we present our defense to them prior to the trial commencing.

However, it is not enough to merely say it was “an accident”. The evidence must support your legal position. For example if you were with your baby and the baby was in a stroller and you inadvertently placed an item in the top of the stroller and you purchased many other items but did not pay for this one item, you can argue that it was an “accident” as to that one item, in that you were distracted from having to tend to your baby.

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Ventura County does not follow the policy of other California courts when it comes to petty theft charges. In some California courts, the prosecutor and the court employ a policy that allows a person who is charged with a first-time misdemeanor petty theft offense to enroll in a theft class. If that class is successfully completed, the person will have the misdemeanor charge dismissed. However Ventura County has no such program in place.

Petty%20theft%20in%20Ventura%20Lawyer%20888-280-6839.jpgGenerally referred to as shoplifting, petty theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Petty theft is usually charged as a misdemeanor on the first offense, and the value of the property stolen is valued between $50 and $950.

A petty theft misdemeanor conviction carries up to six months in county jail, a fine, and up to three years on probation. In some cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Ventura County may successfully be able to reduce the misdemeanor to an infraction, thus eliminating a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor.

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If you have been charged with grand theft or petty theft in Riverside, our knowledgeable theft attorneys – experienced in the workings and procedures of the Riverside local courts – provide you an overview of the punishment for petty theft that you are facing in Riverside.

Petty%20Theft%20in%20Riverside%2C%20California%20488%20PC.jpgUnder California Penal Code section 488, any theft that is not considered grand theft is charged as petty theft. Under Penal Code section 487, grand theft is committed when the value of the property taken is over $950. Grand theft also occurs in several other situations, including if the property is taken from the clothing or body of another person. If you have been charged with theft of property that has a value less than $950, and it does not otherwise qualify as grand theft, it will be considered petty theft.

Under Penal Code section 490, the punishment you are facing for petty theft is imprisonment in the Riverside county jail for no more than six months, a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both. If you have not been charged with any other prior theft-related crimes and the value of the property stolen is less than $50, your Riverside theft attorney at Wallin & Klarich may assist you to reduce the charge to an infraction. See California Penal Code 490.1(a). If the petty theft charge is reduced to an infraction the punishment is a maximum fine of $250.

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Although the answer to this question depends on the facts of the case the answer is most likely that you will not actually go to jail for a first-time shoplifting offense in California, penal code 484. The rule of thumb is that the higher the value of items that were stolen the more severe the punishment will be. If you are charged with shoplifting or petty theft then the value of the merchandise is almost certainly under $900 and although you are unlikely facing time behind bars for a first offense there will be consequences if convicted.

As stated, the value of items that were stolen or attempted to be stolen in a petty theft case is the most relevant factor in determining what type of punishment will be imposed. If the value of the items is $50 or less on a first offense, then there is a solid chance that the case could be negotiated down from a misdemeanor to an infraction. This would avoid a criminal conviction and would also avoid a potential probation term and reduced fines.

Also, many counties in California offer theft diversion programs. Under such a program the accused would enter a plea of guilty to the charge and sentencing would be continued for 90 days or so. During that time the defendant would have to successfully complete a theft diversion class and not stay out of trouble until sentencing. If they do so, the case is dismissed before sentencing and the defendant avoids a criminal conviction.

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Shoplifting in Orange County is so common that many people who otherwise consider themselves upstanding citizens have committed an offense at one time or other. Just switching a price tag with another from a less-expensive garment is stealing. Indeed, some minor offenses may not even seem unethical to many. However, shoplifting is serious, and can carry harsh penalties.

Shoplifting is an equal opportunity offender. Individuals from every background imaginable are caught. Even movie stars shoplift, as evidenced by troubled actors who have made the headlines in recent years. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, approximately 25% of shoplifting arrestees are 13-17 years old. Adults account for the remainder, and, surprisingly, a large percentage of shoplifters are employees.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reports that 75% of employees have stolen at least one time. The loss for stores just from employees amounts to as much as $50 billion annually, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Employees naturally have an advantage among shoplifters. They know something about store security measures, and have access to areas the public doesn’t. What would motivate an employee to shoplift? Temptation certainly is a factor. Working around products one desires to own but cannot afford can lead an employee to become bitter about his paycheck. This is a mere step away from taking the item, rationalizing that he has earned it.

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Being arrested for theft is bad enough. But using your 10-year-old daughter to commit the crime, then abandoning her at Target when she got caught seems to be a lot worse. That is exactly what happened this weekend, and now Tiffany Foster is going to need a good criminal defense lawyer as well as an incredible family law attorney if she hopes to keep custody of her child.

Security cameras at Target captured the woman trying to conceal approximately $600 worth of merchandise under some coats in a shopping cart. She then allegedly instructed her daughter to push the cart outside the store. When security guards stopped the little girl, her mother and another woman took off running.

After questioning the girl, police tracked down Foster at her home and ordered her back to the Target. Foster claimed that she had no knowledge of the items hidden under the jacket, basically throwing her daughter under the bus for her crime. Thankfully, the little girl had come clean to police already, saying that she and her mother had entered the Target with the intention of shoplifting and had done it before.

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In many instances, people make poor judgments and steal things. And sometimes false allegations do happen to good people. The possibility of getting a theft case dismissed or reduced and mitigated to a less serious offense depends largely on the experience of the San Bernardino theft lawyer representing you.

Theft offenses range from Petty theft under Penal Code Sections 484 and 488 which amounts to thefts up to a value of $950 to Grand Theft under Penal Code Section 487 which is property valued more than $950 to even auto burglary and some of the white collar crimes like embezzlement and identity theft.

Having a theft record can also hamper a persons chance in gaining employment in the future and other consequences as they will appear on background checks if there is a conviction.

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In most cases when you are arrested for shoplifting at a store, you will probably receive a letter from an attorney demanding that you pay a certain amount of money. This letter is called a “civil demand” letter, which is sent to you as an attempt by the store to recoup its losses from the theft.

These letters can be very intimidating and can become increasingly threatening as they may demand that you pay for the value of the item taken, the amount of any resulting damage, or the cost of the security employees. No matter how frightening these letters may become – no matter how much they threaten to sue you – do not hastily pay the amounts that they demand. Know your rights first.

California Penal Code 490.5, which governs civil demand letters, states that you are only responsible for paying for losses, plus the cost of any damaged merchandise that the store would not be able to re-sell.

About Wallin & Klarich


Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.