LAW OFFICE OF JAMIE N. HARRIS
Be Treated With Respect And Care.

Theft Crimes

Theft is a broad legal term with a wide range of potential sentences. Under California theft laws are shoplifting, bad checks, and other related offenses.

If you made a dumb mistake and got caught shoplifting, you deserve fair treatment under the law, and a second chance. Anyone can make a bad decision. But, a conviction on a criminal charge can follow you for the rest of your life. That’s why I will work to find any option to keep that from happening. We can fight and challenge the facts of a theft/shoplifting charge, or simply negotiate a reasonable arrangement for restitution, or any option that can keep your record clean.

I understand what you are going though. Anytime you are facing criminal charges can be a frightening time. And the Bay Area criminal courts are not on your side, and may not be sympathetic. When you are unsure of your next move, contacting our experienced
Bay Area theft & shoplifting defense attorneys for your best options in this unfortunate circumstance. I can help.

Theft – Laws and Penalties in California

The general theft offense can be committed in a wide variety of ways. Certainly, if you take someone else’s property you may be charged with theft. But you can also be charged with theft if you:

  • obtain services without payment
  • find property and do not make an attempt to return it to its rightful owner
  • control or possess property you have reason to believe is stolen (aka receiving stolen property)

Shoplifting is another serious theft crime. Like theft, you can be charged under California shoplifting laws for a variety of different reasons including:

  • removing merchandise from a store without paying
  • altering price tags to pay less than required
  • removing price tags
  • concealing items
  • moving items from their original container

Also like theft, the sentences for shoplifting depend on the value of the merchandise in question.

Issuing, writing, or passing a bad check is also considered a form of theft. If you write a check knowing that the bank account it was drawn on does not have sufficient funds, you can be charged with this offense. It is also a crime to write a check on an inactive, closed or non-existent bank account.

If you write a bounced check in California, you can be criminally prosecuted. Under California Penal Code Section 476(a), it is a crime to write a check knowing that you have insufficient funds and the intent to defraud.

If the prosecution can prove that you knowingly wrote a bad check with the intent to deceive another person out of money or property, you will be convicted. This crime does not require proof that you fabricated a false check or wrote false information. The crime is completed the minute you knowingly write a check for an amount you did not actually have.

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can raise certain defenses on your behalf. Depending on the facts of your case, a defense attorney can argue that you did not have the necessary intent to defraud because you reasonably believed that there would be sufficient funds to pay for the check amount. Again, depending on your facts, a defense attorney may also present evidence that you had informed the person receiving the check that you had insufficient funds, thus negating any intent to defraud. Without proof that you had the intent to defraud, the charge will likely be dismissed.

Bad check penalties can include a jail sentence of up to 3 years in state prison if the offense was charged as a felony. You will incur a bad check felony charge if the dollar amount of the check (or checks) you wrote exceeded a certain dollar amount. Any amount less than that will incur a misdemeanor charge, which brings with it a maximum jail sentence of 1 year in county jail.

Theft may be a common crime but that does not decrease the seriousness of it. Anytime you are facing a potential prison sentence, the charge needs to be taken very seriously. Even a seemingly minor charge will leave you with a permanent criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life, if you just plead guilty.

Contact me for a free consultation on your theft case. As an experienced defense attorney.s in California who has defended many shoplifting/theft cases before, I know the best chances you may have to get the charges dropped or reduced, at the very least.
(408) 947-7729

I will be sure that your best interests are always the most important factor in representing you during this stressful time.







The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.