What is Petty Theft and Shoplifting?
Petty Theft in Sacramento is defined under California Penal Code Section 484 and applies to items valued at less than $950. When the items are valued at over $950, then the crime is classified as Grand Theft. Shoplifting is described under CA Penal Code 459.5 and specifies that a commercial establishment was entered during business hours.
We have worked with the loss prevention personnel at most of the retail establishments in Sacramento and the surrounding areas and are aware of the sometimes illegal overly aggressive tactics that they use. Some of the stores that we regularly work with are:
If you find yourself accused of shoplifting, it is very important to defend your case. Many clients come to us thinking that shoplifting is so minor a crime that it will be treated like a speeding ticket with a small fine. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and a shoplifting conviction can result in a lifetime criminal record which will cause problems with employment background checks or rental background checks.
If you are facing your first petty theft charge, we may be able to help you with a diversion program. If you are eligible, you may be able to avoid a conviction by taking classes and staying out of trouble. Keep in mind that diversion is offered at the discretion of the court and is not available in every case.
Defenses in a Petty Theft Case
Theft by Accident
To prove a case of Petty Theft, the prosecutor must show that there was intent to defraud the merchant. That means that if the accused accidentally or inadvertantly took the item, this could be used as a valid defense. Additional defenses include:
- The Property in question actually belonged to you
- The owner of the item consented to you taking it
- You were falsely accused