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When Can a Theft Crime be Charged as a Felony?

Theft is the taking of someone’s personal property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. While the concept is simple, the details of theft law can be fairly complicated, especially the distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony charge.

There are many different types of theft crimes, including:

  • Shoplifting — Taking merchandise from a store without paying
  • Embezzlement — When someone in a position of trust secretly takes money from another, such as an employer
  • Robbery — Taking property from another using force or the threat of violence
  • Grand theft auto — Stealing, or attempting to steal, another person’s vehicle

These types of theft have varying punishments under state law. Some are charged as misdemeanors, which involve a maximum punishment of one year in prison. Other theft crimes are charged as felonies, which are more serious crimes that are subject to a prison sentence of more than a year.

In California, someone who shoplifts will be charged with a misdemeanor if the goods stolen are valued at $950 or less. The maximum punishment for shoplifting is six months in jail. However, if the goods are worth more than $950 and/or the perpetrator is a repeat offender, it’s considered grand theft — a felony punishable by up to three years of incarceration. As in other states, robbery is charged as felony theft, and stealing a car of any value is also a grand theft felony charge.

Theft of a firearm is most always a felony in California. The perpetrator can face felony charges even if the firearm has no value and is inoperable. Also, an employer who steals wages can face felony charges if the employee was shorted a total of $950 or more in a twelve-month period.

These laws and regulations surrounding theft and misdemeanor crimes are complicated. Anyone facing these allegations should immediately seek the advice and counsel of a highly qualified theft crimes lawyer to best protect their rights and interests.

Based in Roseville, CA, Strategic Law Command is a full service criminal defense firm. Our attorneys defend each case rigorously to ensure the best outcome possible under the circumstances. If you or a family member has been charged with any type of theft crime, feel free to contact us or call (916) 787-1234 for an initial consultation.