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Colleen Grady
Colleen Grady, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Attorney and Counselor at Law
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I was wondering about petty theft laws on CA. If you are not

Customer Question

I was wondering about petty theft laws on CA. If you are not caught shoplifting in the store, can they legally pursue you?
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: Well what constitutes petty theft?
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Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 8 months ago.

Hello. I will help you with your questions. I have been an attorney for 26 years. I will have the definition of petty theft for you in a short time.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you. Also, what are laws on not being caught for petty theft and possible record of license plate.
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 8 months ago.

Petty theft has two levels in California. The first level involves taking property valued at $50 or less. A person would be charged with an infraction and could be punished with a $250 fine in this case.

The second level involves taking the property that is valued no more than $950. This would be a misdemeanor. A person could serve up to 6 months in jail and pay a fine up to $1000 for shoplifting under this level if they are a first time offender. Here is the law:

Universal Citation: CA Penal Code § 490.2 (2013)

(a) Notwithstanding Section 487 or any other provision of law defining grand theft, obtaining any property by theft where the value of the money, labor, real or personal property taken does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) shall be considered petty theft and shall be punished as a misdemeanor, except that such person may instead be punished pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 if that person has one or more prior convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 290.

In order to charge a person, the authorities need evidence that the person stole the property such as a witness seeing it happen or a camera recording it. A record of the license plate without other evidence is not enough. If they find the stolen property on the person and the person has no receipt plus the record of the license plate, they may have enough evidence to charge someone.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I will be happy to help you more. If you are satisfied with my service, I ask that you rate me.

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