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Theft Defense

California penal code section 484 & 487

Theft charges come in dozens of varieties, including petty theft, Grand theft, vehicle theft, embezzlement, robbery, burglary, fraud, identity theft, shoplifting, etc. This article is dedicated theft charges filed under penal code 484(a).

PC 484(a) Law Abbr.

Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft... [PC 484(a)].

More simply defined: Theft occurs when the defendant takes another person's property without consent or legal justification and with the intent to permanently deprive the true owner of the property. The property taken must be moved some distance in order to prove theft; however, the movement may be slight and the duration may be short.

Grand Theft v. Petty Theft

Theft of property valued at more than a thousand dollars ($1,000) is considered grand theft and theft of property valued at one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less is considered petty theft. In determining the value of the property obtained, the reasonable and fair market value shall be the test, and in determining the value of services received the contract price shall be the test. If there be no contract price, the reasonable and going wage for the service rendered shall govern [PC 484(a)].

Sentence for PC 484(a) Crimes

PC 484(a) may be classified as a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the value of the property stolen. When grand theft is charged as a felony under PC 484(a) the defendant may face up to three (3) years in prison (county prison). When grand theft is charged as a misdemeanor under PC 484(a) the defendant may face up to one hundred eighty days in the county jail.

Probation Sentence for PC 484(a) Crimes

A probation sentence may be available in some theft crimes for some defendants. A probation sentence is a non-prison sentence whereby the defendant is supervised by a probation officer (in felony probation cases) or self-monitored (in misdemeanor probation cases). Probation sentences have terms or conditions that must be followed to be allowed to continue on a probation sentence. A probation sentence can include some jail time as a condition of probation; however, jail sentences that are ordered as a condition of probation sentences are generally short and may be served on electronic monitoring (house arrest) or work release. Other conditions of probation will apply such as restitution to the theft victims, restraining orders, payment of fines, commit no further crime during probation, etc.

Suspended Sentences Allowed

When the defendant is sentenced to prison or county jail as opposed to receiving a probation sentence upon a conviction for PC 484(a) he or she may ordinarily have that prison sentence suspended or split. A suspended sentence is a sentence that is not served unless there is a violation of a probation term. A split prison sentence is a sentence that may be served partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release or house arrest. In addition, new California law allows prison sentences to be served in a local county jail for some crimes, including theft crimes charged under PC 484(a).

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Theft crimes, including criminal charges of PC 484(a), are considered crimes of moral turpitude. Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes that are considered to be morally wrong (as opposed to statutory crimes). Crimes of moral turpitude carry special punishment for non-U.S. citizens and professionally licensed defendants. For immigrants, a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude could lead to deportation from the United States or denial of reentry in the country. For professionally licensed defendants (doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, teachers, etc.), a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude could lead to disciplinary action from the defendant's licensing agency (Board, Bar, Commission, etc.).

Three Strikes Law

Theft crimes charged under PC 484(a) are not considered serious or violent felonies as those terms are defined under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law and PC 1192.7 and 667.5. As such, PC 484(a) crimes are not considered strike offenses. Defendants convicted of most theft crimes, including PC 484(a) are eligible for enhanced good behavior credits while in custody (50%).

Collateral Punishment for Theft Crimes

In addition to possible jail or county prison sentences, if found guilty of PC 484(a) the defendant may suffer any or all of the following: restraining orders, fines and court fees, restitution to victims, firearm prohibition (for felony PC 484(a) convictions), loss of legal rights in family law court, and more.

Defenses to Theft Crimes (PC 484(a))

Every theft case is different; therefore, every defense to theft case is different. The most common defenses to theft crimes include, but are not limited to, the following: insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, coerced confessions or other police misconduct, intoxication, insanity, statute of limitations (1 year for misdemeanor PC 484(a) crimes and 3 years for felony PC 484(a) crimes), alibi, claim of right, entrapment, consent, and more.

If you have been charged with theft, or penal code section 484(a), contact our successful and experienced defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our defense attorneys are available twenty-four hours a day and we offer free consultations.



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Theft Defense & PC 484 & 487

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All Misdemeanor & Felony Theft Crimes

  • Theft
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Elder Theft
  • False Pretenses
  • Welfare Fraud
  • Stolen Property
  • Looting
  • Identity Theft
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Check Fraud
  • Robbery
  • Embezzlement
  • Shoplifting
  • Burglary
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Money Laundering
  • Petty Theft
  • Counterfeiting
  • Attempted Theft
  • Carjacking

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Closely associated crimes to PC 484(A)

  • Petty Theft: Penal Code 484(a) or 488
  • Grand Theft: Penal Code 484(a)
  • Theft of Leased Vehicle: Penal Code 484(b)(2)
  • Grand Theft of Property > $950: Penal Code 487(a)
  • Theft of Property From Person: Penal Code 487(c)
  • Grand Theft of Firearm: (Penal Code 487(d))
  • Credit Card Fraud: Penal Code 484e
  • Theft by False Pretenses: Penal Code 532 & 484
  • Grand Theft of Vehicle > $950: Penal Code 487(a), or VC 10851(a)
  • Unauthorized Use of Vehicle: VC 10851(a)
  • Petty Theft of $50 or less: Penal Code 490.1(a)

Criminal Defense Attorneys


Theft Defense: PC 484 & 487

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Se habla espanol / Abogados de defensa criminal

California Theft Laws & Defense PC 484 & PC484(A)

Criminal Defense Attorney


Law Office of Christopher Dorado 1030 Nevada Street. Suite 105 Redlands, CA. 92374