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Theft Crime Attorneys in Northern California

We also assist those accused in Napa, San Rafael, Lakeport, Ukiah, & Eureka

Our firm is focused on helping individuals who have been accused of serious theft crimes.

Theft Crime Laws and Defenses:

Theft Cases We Handle:

  • Bad Checks
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Identity Theft
  • Cybercrimes
  • Credit Cards
  • Shoplifting
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Armed Robbery
  • Commercial / Residential Burglary

We handle criminal cases in Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael, Lakeport, Ukiah, & Eureka.

Learn more about how our theft crime lawyers can help you by contacting Ronald Dinan and Associates today!

Penalties for Theft Crimes in California

In general, theft can be divided into categories of grand theft or petty theft. When money, labor, real, or personal property is taken and has a value exceeding $950, it is considered grand theft. Less than $950 is considered petty theft.

Some exceptions for characterizing theft as grand theft:

  • Taking of domestic fowls, fruits, vegetables, or farm crops with a value of $250+
  • Fish, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, etc.
  • When any property is taken directly from a person
  • When the property is taken from an automobile, horse, bovine animal, etc.
  • When the property is a firearm.

Theft Involving a Firearm

When the theft involves a firearm—regardless of value—it is a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years. There are a number of theft cases that carry a higher imprisonment range—such as 2, 4, or 6 years for first-degree burglary or 2-4 years for counterfeiting and/or extortion. In misdemeanor cases, defendants can be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.

Petty Theft

Petty theft generally includes property taken that has a value of less than $950 with certain exceptions. The value of the property stolen is generally estimated in U.S. dollars and is based on the reasonable and fair market value. The test for this analysis is what the property would bring in the open market—not its special value to the owner or its replacement cost.


Embezzlement is defined in Penal Code §503 as "the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it was entrusted." The acts constituting embezzlement are punishable in the same manner as other thefts. A relationship of trust and confidence is essential to embezzlement, and generally, the alleged perpetrator of an embezzlement crime is an employee but maybe a public officer, trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, conservator, attorney, or a person who takes money in a voluntary trust.

We offer representation to clients in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties


Burglary is a theft by a person who enters some type of building or structure, vehicle, or vessel with the intent to commit theft or any felony. As an example, a person who simply goes into a store and makes the decision to steal something once he or she is in the store is guilty of either grand theft or petty theft, depending on the value of the merchandise stolen. By the same token, if the same person enters the store with the intent to steal something, that person is then guilty of burglary. Evidence of the intent is generally proven by virtue of the person's possession of an instrument of theft such as a shopping bag.

Penal Code §460 defines the degrees of burglary.

A burglary of an inhabited dwelling, house, or vessel designed for habitation, or a trailer coach is burglary of the first degree. All other kinds of burglary are second degree. Burglary in the first degree is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 2, 4, or 6 years. Burglary charged as a misdemeanor in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year. Felony burglary in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years.

Generally, most state prison terms have a day-for-day credit, meaning, for example, if a person is sentenced to 2 years or 24 months in state prison, he or she serves half of that or 1 year since 2010. Some crimes, however, constitute a "strike," and therefore, only 15% credit is given. Using our example, a person who is sentenced to 24 months in jail must serve 85% of the sentence. Numerous statutes reduce the ability to be sentenced to a disposition other than state prison. For example, Penal Code §462 requires probation not to be granted in a first-degree burglary case except in unusual cases in which the interests of justice would be served if the person is granted probation. This is a much more restricted level of sentencing than is normally found in a grand theft case.


Robbery is defined as:

  • 1) Taking of personal property
  • 2) In the possession of another
  • 3) From his or her person or immediate presence
  • 4) Against his / her will
  • 5) Accomplished by means of force or fear

Two degrees of robbery can be cited in charges.

First-degree robbery is defined as 1) anyone who is an operator of a bus, taxicab, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicles including a train; or 2) a person who is in an inhabited dwelling house or on a boat. It is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 3, 6, or 9 years. The first-degree robbery can also consist of the robbery of a person using an ATM, or who has used an ATM, or who is simply in the vicinity of an ATM. This type of robbery is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 3, 4, or 6 years.

All other kinds of robbery are second degree. Second-degree robbery is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 2, 3, or 5 years. Additional prison time can be levied against an individual in a sentencing enhancement, which can include an additional prison sentence of 3 to 6 years or enhancement for the use of a firearm. For example, using a firearm in a violent offense can constitute a 10-year enhancement; discharging a firearm in a violent the offense can result in a 20-year enhancement, and discharging a firearm with great bodily injury in a violent offense can carry a 25-year-to-life sentence.


Carjacking is a specific theft crime that involves the taking of a motor vehicle that someone else possesses or taking a vehicle from another person with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive that person of the possession of the vehicle. This offense is accomplished by force or fear. Carjacking is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 3, 5, or 9 years.

Receiving Stolen Property

Pursuant to Penal Code §496(a), receiving stolen property is a crime that does not necessarily apply to a person who steals something but rather to a person who buys or receives property that has been stolen or in some way has been acquired by theft or extortion, and the person who receives it knows that the property is stolen.

The three basic elements of the crime of receiving stolen property are:

  • Knowledge of the theft that resulted in the acquisition of the property;
  • Actually receiving, concealing, selling, or withholding the property; and
  • The property is obtained by extortion or theft.

A defense to this particular crime is when a defendant receives stolen property and has the initial intention to restore the property to the rightful owner. This individual has no criminal intent and therefore is not guilty of receiving stolen property.

Another defense is based on evidence produced by the defendant that there was no knowledge that the property was stolen and that the stolen property was received in good faith or for a price that would not lead someone to believe it was stolen. Purchasing a $5,000 ring for $100 may very well be evidence of the receipt of stolen property. Purchasing the same ring for $2,500 may provide a defense.

Aggressive Theft Crime Defense in Northern California

If you have been charged in a theft case, one of the best decisions you can make is to speak to Ronald Dinan & Associates. To speak with our Sonoma County criminal defense attorney, call us today! With offices in Santa Rosa, Lakeport, Eureka, Napa, Ukiah, and San Rafael, our attorneys are here when you need them.

We are proud to offer free consultations for our clients, so contact us now to learn why our firm is a fit for your case. We handle criminal cases in Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael, Lakeport, Ukiah, & Eureka.

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