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Successful Theft Lawyer

Embezzlement Lawyer Provides Free Consultation in Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael, Lakeport, Ukiah or Eureka.

Ronald Dinan and Associates offers expert legal counsel with the following theft-related charges and issues:

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


In general, theft can be divided into 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 that is considered petty theft.

Some exceptions for characterizing theft as grand theft, when the items stolen may have a value below $950, are:

  • (1) Taking of domestic fowls, fruits, vegetables, farm crops, etc. with a value exceeding $250, or
  • (2) Fish, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, etc., or
  • (3) When any property it taken directly from a person, or
  • (4) When the property taken is an automobile, horse, mare, gelding, bovine animal, etc., or
  • (5) When the property is a firearm.

When the theft involves a firearm, regardless of value, it is a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, two years or three years. Although most felony theft cases carry an imprisonment term of 16 months lower-term, two years mid-term and three years upper-term, there are a number of theft cases that carry a higher imprisonment range, such as two years, four years or six years in first-degree burglary cases or two years lower, three years middle and four years upper in counterfeiting and/or extortion cases. In misdemeanor cases, by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.

Petty Theft

Petty theft includes all thefts other than grand theft and 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 the value 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 also within the general definition of Penal Code §484(a) and 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 can be a public officer, trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, conservator, attorney or a person who takes money in a voluntary trust.


Burglary is a theft by a person who enters some type of building or structure, vehicle, vessel, etc. with the intent to commit grand theft or petty theft or any other felony. As an example, a person who simply goes into a store and makes the decision once they are in the store to steal something 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, a pair of scissors or other cutting instrument, a marker-pen, other price tags, etc.

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 a state prison for two, four or six years. Burglary charged as a misdemeanor in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or otherwise pursuant to subdivision (h) of Penal Code §1170. Felony burglary in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, two years or three years.

Generally, most state prison terms have a day for day credit meaning, as an example, if a person is sentenced to two years or 24 months of state prison, they serve half of that, or one year since 2010. However, there are some crimes that 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.

There are also numerous statutes which reduce the ability to be sentenced to a disposition other than state prison i.e., Penal Code §462 which requires probation not to be granted in a first degree burglary case except in unusual cases where 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 the (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, and (5) accomplished by means of force or fear. The value of the item must exist but it is not at any particular dollar level.

There are two degrees of robbery. First degree robbery is (1) robbery from anyone who is an operator of a bus, taxicab, cable car, street car, trackless trolley or other vehicle including a train, or (2) robbery of a person who is in an inhabited dwelling house or on a boat. This level of first degree robbery is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for three, six or nine years.

First degree robbery can also consist of the robbery of a person (1) using an ATM, or (2) who has used an ATM, or (3) who is simply in the vicinity of an ATM. This type of robbery is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for three, four or six years.

All other kinds of robbery are second degree. Second degree robbery is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for two, three or five years. Additional prison time can be levied against an individual in a sentencing enhancement which can include a three to six year additional prison sentence or enhancement for the use of a firearm. As an example, using a firearm in a violent offense can constitute a ten year enhancement; discharging a firearm in a violent offense can cause a 20 year enhancement and discharging a firearm with great bodily injury in a violent offense can carry a 25 year to life sentence.

Car Jacking

Car jacking is a specific theft crime that involves the taking of a motor vehicle that someone else possesses or from another person with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive that person of the possession of the vehicle and is accomplished by force or fear. Car jacking is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of three, five or nine years.

Receiving Stolen Property

Pursuant to Penal Code §496(a), receiving stolen property is a crime that does not apply necessarily 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: (1) knowledge of the theft or extortion that ultimately resulted in the acquisition of the property, (2) actually receiving, concealing, selling or withholding the property, and (3) property actually 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 item(s) were 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.

If you have been charged in a theft case, one of the best decisions you can make is to speak to a theft attorney or theft lawyer. Our practice concentrates in the counties of Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Mendocino, Humboldt and Lake. Our six Bay Area offices are centrally located in the cities in which the courthouses are located, including Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael, Lakeport, Ukiah, and Eureka. We welcome all questions and inquiries and will answer them in a pleasant, courteous and helpful manner. To speak with an attorney, call us today!

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