Grand Theft
Petty Theft
Auto Theft
Receiving Stolen Property
Welfare Fraud
Insurance Fraud
Identity Theft


Theft cases comprise everything from the slightest shoplifting case up to most multifaceted white-collar crimes taking in great sums of money.  Obviously, the larger the dollar amount of the theft, the more serious the charge is.  A theft takes place when someone takes something without the intent of giving it back.  One can also be incriminated for theft if one plans to return the item taken, but declines to return it until you are given something you are not lawfully entitled to have.

Thefts in California can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies.  How they are charged depends on the amount of loss to the victim, and other factors such as whether or not the accused has any prior convictions.

As with many crimes, the facts associated with the case will often help the judge establish what the sentence will likely be for the theft.  A devious and cunning theft is prone to be punished more severely than a theft carried out on impulse.  If there was a intricate, well-thought-out design to the theft, the defendant could have problems at sentencing. Similarly, the higher the dollar total of the theft, the more aggravated the punishment will be at sentencing.  Most judges really don’t like defendants that steal from their company, or from an at-risk senior adult, or a young child.

In California, if theft is from the person of another and any sort of force or threat is used against the victim, the theft will then be elevated and charged as a robbery.

If a person receives, stores, transports or sales something known to be stolen they can be charged with a related theft crime, known as receiving stolen property.

The Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen defends clients accused with straightforward shoplifting cases, as well as those alleged to have committed complicated white-collar crimes concerning large sums of money or property.  If you have been or are currently being investigated for theft, please contact our Orange, California office for a FREE initial consultation.  Remember to remain silent.  Do not respond to any questions until you know your are talking with a lawyer.  Bear in mind that when your employer is accusing you of theft, you might lose your job if you refuse to answer your employer’s questions.  However, your job may not be as central to your well being, as protecting your rights in a criminal court proceeding that may have significant jail time consequences.

What about related charges of theft? 

Often theft is charged along with other related crimes, like fraud or forgery.  If that happens your possible sentence exposure time will be determined by combining and totaling the charges for all the crimes you have been charged with.  Consecutive sentencing will result in longer and greater sentences than for theft alone.



Grand Theft


California Penal Code Section 487

California Penal Code Section 487 defines grand theft as the unlawful taking of another’s property valued above $400.  If the property’s value is $400 or less, normally a California Penal Code Section 484 will be charged.  The charge for grand theft can be simple and clear-cut, or it can be quite intricate and complicated.

As an example, if money, labor, personal property, or land is taken from your employer, within a 12-month period, totaling more than $400, you could be charged with grand theft.

With some thefts even if the value of the property taken is $400 or less it doesn’t matter, you can still be charged with grand theft.  Some of those items could be a firearm, an automobile or certain livestock.

In California some items will trigger a grand theft charge for only being valued over $100, instead of the $400 amount.  These items consist of:

  • Some livestock (chickens & fish), and agricultural crops of certain fruits and vegetables.
  • Unlawfully taken real property from another and converted into your own personal property; an example would be taking minerals from someone else’s land and selling (converting) it for cash (personal property).

In California there are different way a person commits grand larceny.  Two of the  more common ways are larceny and embezzlement.  Most people refer to larceny as stealing.  Shoplifting would be an example of this, but it can be any unlawful physical taking of another’s personal property.  Embezzlement is another form of grand theft; it is the unlawful taking of property of another that you have been entrusted with.  Taking money from the till or property at work would be an example of this.

In a trial in California, for the prosecutor to get a guilty verdict of grand theft he can use any one or more than one theory to get a conviction.  The jury only has to agree that you unlawfully took the property of another; they do not have to agree as to which theory it was taken.  They also must agree whether the theft was a grand theft or petty theft for a conviction in California.

What Must the Prosecutor Prove to Obtain a Conviction of Grand Theft?

First, the prosecutor must prove that there was an intent to steal.  With no intent there can be no grand theft or petty theft.

Next the prosecutor has to prove that you unlawfully took the property of another using one of the statuary theories of theft, such as larceny, embezzlement, trickery or false pretenses.

Do I Have Any Defenses?

You need to talk to an experienced California criminal defense attorney to discuss the particular facts of your case to see if there are any viable defenses for your particular situation.  Returning the property or attempting to return the property or even intending to return the property is not a defense.  However, some of the possible defenses would be consent, a good faith belief in you being authorized to use the property and claim of right.  If your situation seems overwhelming, contact the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen.  We can help you with your legal problems.

Other Related Charges

Often grand theft, may involve other related charges such as burglary, robbery, forgery, or petty theft to name just a few.

You can be charged with burglary if you entered in a building with the intent to steal.

The prosecutor could charge you with robbery if you used force or fear to take the personal property of another.

A residential burglary or a robbery is consider a “strike” under California law.  These are serious charges and you should seek competent legal counsel if you are facing these charges.

Forgery is a theft that entails using fraud.  A common example of this charge is signing a check that you are not authorized to sign on the account.

At trial you could be found guilty of a lesser included offense of petty theft.  This usually comes into play if there the dollar amount in the case is questionable as to whether the item was valued over $400.

What is the Penalty for Grand Theft?

Grand theft in California is a “wobbler”, which means the prosecutor can charge it as either a felony or misdemeanor.  This decision is at the prosecutor’s discretion.  Some of the things they look at in charging is the circumstances of your case, and your criminal history.

A misdemeanor grand theft conviction can result in up to one year in county jail.  However, if convicted of grand theft as a felony, you face 16 months, or two or three years in a California State Prison.

A “grand theft firearm” is always charged as a felony.  It will also count as a “strike” on your record.

Besides the penalties mentioned above, you can receive additional and consecutive state prison time for the value of the property as it exceeds certain dollar amount thresholds.

For a FREE confidential consultation and case evaluation with a criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen, for Orange, California and all the surrounding areas of Southern California.



Petty Theft & Shoplifting


Misdemeanor Crimes in Orange, California and surrounding areas.

There are numerous kinds of criminal crimes charged as misdemeanors in California.  Misdemeanors expose a defendant to local county jail time, rather than state prison time that felonies impose.  Because of that distinction, misdemeanors are sometimes referred to as less serious crimes.  However, those convicted of a misdemeanor can be severely punished and if you are the person having to do up to a year of jail time it is a serious matter.  A year of jail time could be a life-altering experience.  Do not take a chance with your life, if you have been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, contact an Orange, California defense attorney to represent you.  When appearing in court on any misdemeanor charge, it is not easy to predict what a judge or a jury will do with your case.  In some cases, the maximum punishment may be issued by the court.  This can be based on prior convictions, aggravating circumstances or for no reason at all.  Do not gamble the outcome of your life with misdemeanor charges, regardless of how insignificant they seem.  Petty theft and its cousin, shoplifting are common crimes that can be charged as misdemeanors.  If you or someone you know has been charge with one of these or another misdemeanor, contact the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen for a FREE initial consultation, to begin receiving the help you need.