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Criminal Defense Attorney for Theft Offenses in Los Angeles and San Bernardino

Theft offenses in California include a long list of crimes, including larceny, shoplifting and burglary. Theft crimes can often be charged as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the nature of the property involved and its value. This distinction is vastly important because a conviction for a misdemeanor versus a felony can make a huge difference not only in any penalty imposed but also in all the collateral consequences a conviction can have on your life. A skilled defense attorney will often be able to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor when the offense is a “wobbler” as many theft crimes are.

A conviction for a theft offense can be especially difficult to live with. Being found guilty of stealing implies dishonesty and moral failings. People with theft offenses on their record often find themselves fired from their jobs or unable to work in a wide range of occupations, including as a cashier or any job that involves handling money or a position of trust.

If you’ve been arrested and charged with theft, you might have one or more defenses available to fight the charges against you, or a shrewd defense attorney might be able to get you an outcome that avoids jail time or any serious blemish on your record. Before you admit to any offenses, plead guilty to any crimes, or make any statements to the police, call The Law Firm of Oscar A. Ischiu, Esq. for a consultation. With offices in West Covina, Ontario and Monrovia, we defend people charged with theft offenses throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. We’ll look into your case, advise you of your options, and let you know how we can help. Our dedicated criminal defense attorney is committed to ensuring our clients get fair treatment under the law, and we use all the legal tools at our disposal to help our clients accused of crimes get the best outcome in their given situation.

California Theft Offenses

All crimes in California are defined in separate sections of the California Penal Code. Each offense has its own elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of the alleged offense. Unless and until that happens, you are presumed innocent under the law even though you have been arrested and charged with a crime. At The Law Firm of Oscar A. Ischiu, Esq., we hold the prosecution to its burden of proof, challenge their evidence at every turn, and present all viable defenses applicable to your case. Common theft offenses charged in California include the following:


The term “larceny” is used interchangeably in California law with “theft.” The crime of larceny is broken down into two categories: grand theft and petty theft. Grand theft can be charged when the value of the property allegedly stolen exceeds $950, or when the property includes certain property set out in the law, including automobiles, firearms, crops or livestock.

Petty theft can be charged when the amount in question is $950 or less. Grand theft can be charged as a felony with the potential for hefty fines and years in prison if convicted. Petty theft is a misdemeanor, with punishment amounting to fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison.


Embezzlement belongs to a class of crimes known as white-collar crimes. White-collar crimes are committed by deceit as opposed to the use of force or the threat of force, as is characteristic of other theft offenses such as robbery. Embezzlement occurs when a person entrusted with money or property fraudulently appropriates that money or property for their own use.


The crime of burglary is defined in California law as entering any dwelling, shop, or certain other buildings or premises with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony inside.


Shoplifting involves entering a commercial establishment with the intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed $950. Like petty theft, shoplifting is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Note that shoplifting does not necessarily require the actual taking of property but merely the entering with the “intent” to commit larceny. This fact can make a shoplifting charge difficult both to prove and defend against, depending on the circumstances.

Defenses to Theft Crime Charges

The defenses applicable to a theft offense depend upon the specific crime charged, as each offense has its own elements that must be proven and can be challenged by the defense. Generally, one or more of the following defenses might be applicable to a theft crime arrest and prosecution:

  • The police arrested the wrong person based on a description provided by the theft victim or store employee
  • The person arrested had no intention of stealing or committing any crime. For instance, a person could mistakenly have an item in their possession they didn’t intend to purchase, or they could be stopped before they had a chance to purchase it, or they could be in a store after store hours but without the intent of committing any illegal act.
  • The property was not actually “taken” within the meaning of the law
  • The property belonged to the person who was arrested for stealing, or they reasonably believed it was their property
  • The police violated constitutional protections and conducted an illegal arrest, unlawful stop, or unlawful search and seizure
  • Errors by the police in the chain of custody of the allegedly stolen goods

A skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer will take the time to thoroughly investigate the facts of the arrest and raise all applicable defenses on your behalf. Penalties for conviction of a theft offense could include fines and jail time. Your lawyer might also negotiate an arrangement that involves making restitution or agreeing to probation in lieu of punishment and a criminal record. Whether it’s in your best interest to negotiate a plea or fight the charges in court is a matter to be discussed with your attorney. Armed with the best information, you’ll be able to make the right choice about how to approach your case for the best result.

Get the Help You Need After an Arrest for Theft in Los Angeles or San Bernardino

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a theft crime in Los Angeles or San Bernardino County, call The Law Firm of Oscar A. Ischiu, Esq. for a consultation. We’ll let you know your options and zealously handle your case on your behalf. We provide legal services in both Spanish and English. The sooner you call an attorney, the better position you will be in, so call The Law Firm of Oscar A. Ischiu, Esq. as soon as possible for immediate assistance.

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