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Petty Theft is found under PC 484:
A petty theft offense in California actually consists of different elements found in the various types of theft including theft by embezzlement, larceny, false pretense or trick. Shoplifting, which many people associate with petty theft, is a separate offense. Simply put, petty theft is the unlawful taking of property valued at $950 or less and is charged as a misdemeanor.
At the Criminal Attorney Group, we handle petty theft charges for our clients and devote the same attention and resources necessary to defend our clients as vigorously as if it were a felony. Like any criminal conviction, having one on your record can cause considerable problems in your seeking housing, employment, advancement in career as well as other difficulties.
Petty Theft is found under PC 484:
(a) 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. In determining the value of the property obtained, for the purposes of this section, 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. For the purposes of this section, any false or fraudulent representation or pretense made shall be treated as continuing, so as to cover any money, property or service received as a result thereof, and the complaint, information or indictment may charge that the crime was committed on any date during the particular period in question. The hiring of any additional employee or employees without advising each of them of every labor claim due and unpaid and every judgment that the employer has been unable to meet shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud.
(b) (1) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another person pursuant to a written contract, and that property has a value greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and is not a commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner within 10 days after the owner has made written demand by certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented.
(2) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another person pursuant to a written contract, and where the property has a value no greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or where the property is a commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner within 20 days after the owner has made written demand by certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (b), if one presents with criminal intent identification which bears a false or fictitious name or address for the purpose of obtaining the lease or rental of the personal property of another, the presumption created herein shall apply upon the failure of the lessee to return the rental property at the expiration of the lease or rental agreement, and no written demand for the return of the leased or rented property shall be required.
(d) The presumptions created by subdivisions (b) and (c) are presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence.
(e) Within 30 days after the lease or rental agreement has expired, the owner shall make written demand for return of the property so leased or rented. Notice addressed and mailed to the lessee or renter at the address given at the time of the making of the lease or rental agreement and to any other known address shall constitute proper demand. Where the owner fails to make such written demand the presumption created by subdivision (b) shall not apply.
484.1. (a) Any person who knowingly gives false information or provides false verification as to the person’s true identity or as to the person’s ownership interest in property or the person’s authority to sell property in order to receive money or other valuable consideration from a pawnbroker or secondhand dealer and who receives money or other valuable consideration from the pawnbroker or secondhand dealer is guilty of theft.
(b) Upon conviction of the offense described in subdivision (a), the court may require, in addition to any sentence or fine imposed, that the defendant make restitution to the pawnbroker or secondhand dealer in an amount not exceeding the actual losses sustained pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (c) of Section 13967 of the Government Code, as operative on or before September 28, 1994, if the defendant is denied probation, or Section 1203.04, as operative on or before August 2, 1995, if the defendant is granted probation or Section 1202.4.
(c) Upon the setting of a court hearing date for sentencing of any person convicted under this section, the probation officer, if one is assigned, shall notify the pawnbroker or secondhand dealer or coin dealer of the time and place of the hearing.
484b. Any person who receives money for the purpose of obtaining or paying for services, labor, materials or equipment and willfully fails to apply such money for such purpose by either willfully failing to complete the improvements for which funds were provided or willfully failing to pay for services, labor, materials or equipment provided incident to such construction, and wrongfully diverts the funds to a use other than that for which the funds were received, shall be guilty of a public offense and shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by both that fine and that imprisonment if the amount diverted is in excess of two thousand three hundred fifty dollars ($2,350). If the amount diverted is less than or equal to two thousand three hundred fifty dollars ($2,350), the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
484c. Any person who submits a false voucher to obtain construction loan funds and does not use the funds for the purpose for which the claim was submitted is guilty of embezzlement.
484d. As used in this section and Sections 484e to 484j, inclusive:
(1) “Cardholder” means any person to whom an access card is issued or any person who has agreed with the card issuer to pay obligations arising from the issuance of an access card to another person.
(2) “Access card” means any card, plate, code, account number, or other means of account access that can be used, alone or in conjunction with another access card, to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds, other than a transfer originated solely by a paper instrument.
(3) “Expired access card” means an access card which shows on its face it has elapsed.
(4) “Card issuer” means any person who issues an access card or the agent of that person with respect to that card.
(5) “Retailer” means every person who is authorized by an issuer to furnish money, goods, services, or anything else of value upon presentation of an access card by a cardholder.
(6) An access card is “incomplete” if part of the matter other than the signature of the cardholder which an issuer requires to appear on the access card before it can be used by a cardholder has not been stamped, embossed, imprinted, or written on it.
(7) “Revoked access card” means an access card which is no longer authorized for use by the issuer, that authorization having been suspended or terminated and written notice thereof having been given to the cardholder.
(8) “Counterfeit access card” means any access card that is counterfeit, fictitious, altered, or forged, or any false representation or depiction of an access card or a component thereof.
(9) “Traffic” means to transfer or otherwise dispose of property to another, or to obtain control of property with intent to transfer or dispose of it to another.
(10) “Card making equipment” means any equipment, machine, plate, mechanism, impression, or other device designed, used, or intended to be used to produce an access card.
484e. (a) Every person who, with intent to defraud, sells, transfers, or conveys, an access card, without the cardholder’s or issuer’s consent, is guilty of grand theft.
(b) Every person, other than the issuer, who within any consecutive 12-month period, acquires access cards issued in the names of four or more persons which he or she has reason to know were taken or retained under circumstances which constitute a violation of subdivision (a), (c), or (d) is guilty of grand theft.
(c) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, acquires or retains possession of an access card without the cardholder’s or issuer’s consent, with intent to use, sell, or transfer it to a person other than the cardholder or issuer is guilty of petty theft.
(d) Every person who acquires or retains possession of access card account information with respect to an access card validly issued to another person, without the cardholder’s or issuer’s consent, with the intent to use it fraudulently, is guilty of grand theft.
484f. (a) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, designs, makes, alters, or embosses a counterfeit access card or utters or otherwise attempts to use a counterfeit access card is guilty of forgery.
(b) A person other than the cardholder or a person authorized by him or her who, with the intent to defraud, signs the name of another or of a fictitious person to an access card, sales slip, sales draft, or instrument for the payment of money which evidences an access card transaction, is guilty of forgery.
484g. Every person who, with the intent to defraud, (a) uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, an access card or access card account information that has been altered, obtained, or retained in violation of Section 484e or 484f, or an access card which he or she knows is forged, expired, or revoked, or (b) obtains money, goods, services, or anything else of value by representing without the consent of the cardholder that he or she is the holder of an access card and the card has not in fact been issued, is guilty of theft. If the value of all money, goods, services, and other things of value obtained in violation of this section exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.
484h. Every retailer or other person who, with intent to defraud:
(a) Furnishes money, goods, services or anything else of value upon presentation of an access card obtained or retained in violation of Section 484e or an access card which he or she knows is a counterfeit access card or is forged, expired, or revoked, and who receives any payment therefor, is guilty of theft. If the payment received by the retailer or other person for all money, goods, services, and other things of value furnished in violation of this section exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.
(b) Presents for payment a sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction, and receives payment therefor, without furnishing in the transaction money, goods, services, or anything else of value that is equal in value to the amount of the sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction, is guilty of theft. If the difference between the value of all money, goods, services, and anything else of value actually furnished and the payment or payments received by the retailer or other person therefor upon presentation of a sales slip or other evidence of an access card transaction exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.
484i. (a) Every person who possesses an incomplete access card, with intent to complete it without the consent of the issuer, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, makes, alters, varies, changes, or modifies access card account information on any part of an access card, including information encoded in a magnetic stripe or other medium on the access card not directly readable by the human eye, or who authorizes or consents to alteration, variance, change, or modification of access card account information by another, in a manner that causes transactions initiated by that access card to be charged or billed to a person other than the cardholder to whom the access card was issued, is guilty of forgery.
(c) Every person who designs, makes, possesses, or traffics in card making equipment or incomplete access cards with the intent that the equipment or cards be used to make counterfeit access cards, is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
484j. Any person who publishes the number or code of an existing, canceled, revoked, expired or nonexistent access card, personal identification number, computer password, access code, debit card number, bank account number, or the numbering or coding which is employed in the issuance of access cards, with the intent that it be used or with knowledge or reason to believe that it will be used to avoid the payment of any lawful charge, or with intent to defraud or aid another in defrauding, is guilty of a misdemeanor. As used in this section, “publishes” means the communication of information to any one or more persons, either orally, in person or by telephone, radio or television, or on a computer network or computer bulletin board, or in a writing of any kind, including without limitation a letter or memorandum, circular or handbill, newspaper or magazine article, or book.
Theft by Larceny
Larceny is the most common type of theft and consists of the following:
- the taking of someone else’s property
- without the consent of the property owner
- with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it
- or, with the intent to take the property long enough to deprive the owner of a major portion of the value of enjoyment of it AND you moved the property and possessed it for any length of time
Regarding the latter intent, you must have taken the item long enough so that it somehow affect their ownership of it. Taking some dinner plates without permission but returning them 24 hours later probably lacks the crucial element of intent.
Theft by Trick
To be found guilty of theft by trick, the prosecution must prove you guilty regarding the following elements:
- obtained property you knew belonged to another party
- possession was gained by fraud or deceit
- you had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property
- or, you possessed it long enough to deprive the owner of the value of enjoyment of the property
- the owner had no intent to transfer title or ownership to you
An example is giving a person a piece of jewelry to have repaired and then never returning it. Title to the jewelry was never intended to be transferred by the owner.
Theft by Embezzlement
This offense is commonly categorized as a white collar crime. Lawyers at the Criminal Attorney Group routinely handle these offenses. The elements of embezzlement include:
- property owned by another was entrusted to you
- the owner did so because of trusting you
- you fraudulently took the property for your own enjoyment or benefit
- you took the property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use or enjoyment, even temporarily
The breach of trust occurs when the offender abuses the trust given and takes advantage of the owner of the property by appropriating if for him or herself. Bookkeepers, personal representatives, caretakers or other persons entrusted with certain funds with access to bank accounts containing the funds of the owner will withdraw the money for their own use, even if the offender fully intended to replace the funds. It is petty theft only if the funds taken is no more than $950.
The most common offense associated with petty theft is shoplifting, which only recently became a separate offense under the state penal code. Our Criminal Attorney Group routinely handles shoplifting charges and are very successful at either getting these charges dismissed, reduced to infractions or diverted. Shoplifting consists of:
- entering a commercial business
- while that business is open to the public
- and with the intent to commit petty larceny (taking property worth no more than $950)
Shoplifting can be committed if the elements of petty theft by larceny is proved. An example is taking an item of clothing from the store, taking the tag off and attempting to get a refund for it in the same store. Most of the time, offenders try to hide an item on their person, however, many of our clients had no intent to take an item and simply forgot they had it. You can be convicted of shoplifting even if you fail to leave the store so long as intent to commit theft can be shown.
Shoplifting is under PC 459.5:
(a) Notwithstanding Section 459, shoplifting is defined as entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950). Any other entry into a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny is burglary. Shoplifting shall be punished as a misdemeanor, except that a person with 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 may be punished pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
(b) Any act of shoplifting as defined in subdivision (a) shall be charged as shoplifting. No person who is charged with shoplifting may also be charged with burglary or theft of the same property.
Theft by False Pretenses-PC 532
This is a more complicated petty theft offense that is less commonly charged because it requires more evidence to convict the defendant. Its elements consist of:
- making a false pretense to the property owner by deceit, or telling a falsehood
- with the intent to convince or persuade the owner to allow you to take possession of the item
- the person consented to your possession based on reliance on the false pretense
A false pretense means that it was your intent to deceive and you:
- knew the information you gave was false
- or said it with no idea of its truth or falsity
- or you failed to give information when you were obligated to do so
- or you made a promise with no intent to fulfill it
- and the person reasonably relied on your false pretense to give up the property
Proof of false pretense must be any of the following:
- made or produced a false item like a fake ID
- made or produced a writing containing the false pretense that was written or signed by you
- testimony from at least 2 persons who witnessed you stating the false pretense or not giving the information when obligated
- or testimony from one person along with the phony or false item or other evidence
PC 532 is as follows:
(a) Every person who knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defrauds any other person of money, labor, or property, whether real or personal, 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 possession of money or property, or obtains the labor or service of another, is punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as for larceny of the money or property so obtained.
(b) Upon a trial for having, with an intent to cheat or defraud another designedly, by any false pretense, obtained the signature of any person to a written instrument, or having obtained from any person any labor, money, or property, whether real or personal, or valuable thing, the defendant cannot be convicted if the false pretense was expressed in language unaccompanied by a false token or writing, unless the pretense, or some note or memorandum thereof is in writing, subscribed by or in the handwriting of the defendant, or unless the pretense is proven by the testimony of two witnesses, or that of one witness and corroborating circumstances. This section does not apply to a prosecution for falsely representing or personating another, and, in that assumed character, marrying, or receiving any money or property.
532a. (1) Any person who shall knowingly make or cause to be made, either directly or indirectly or through any agency whatsoever, any false statement in writing, with intent that it shall be relied upon, respecting the financial condition, or means or ability to pay, of himself or herself, or any other person, firm or corporation, in whom he or she is interested, or for whom he or she is acting, for the purpose of procuring in any form whatsoever, either the delivery of personal property, the payment of cash, the making of a loan or credit, the extension of a credit, the execution of a contract of guaranty or suretyship, the discount of an account receivable, or the making, acceptance, discount, sale or endorsement of a bill of exchange, or promissory note, for the benefit of either himself or herself or of that person, firm or corporation shall be guilty of a public offense.
(2) Any person who knowing that a false statement in writing has been made, respecting the financial condition or means or ability to pay, of himself or herself, or a person, firm or corporation in which he or she is interested, or for whom he or she is acting, procures, upon the faith thereof, for the benefit either of himself or herself, or of that person, firm or corporation, either or any of the things of benefit mentioned in the first subdivision of this section shall be guilty of a public offense.
(3) Any person who knowing that a statement in writing has been made, respecting the financial condition or means or ability to pay of himself or herself or a person, firm or corporation, in which he or she is interested, or for whom he or she is acting, represents on a later day in writing that the statement theretofore made, if then again made on said day, would be then true, when in fact, said statement if then made would be false, and procures upon the faith thereof, for the benefit either of himself or herself or of that person, firm or corporation either or any of the things of benefit mentioned in the first subdivision of this section shall be guilty of a public offense.
(4) Any person committing a public offense under subdivision (1), (2), or (3) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment. Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision (1), (2), or (3), by using a fictitious name, social security number, business name, or business address, or by falsely representing himself or herself to be another person or another business, is guilty of a felony and is punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(5) This section shall not be construed to preclude the applicability of any other provision of the criminal law of this state which applies or may apply to any transaction.
532b. (a) Any person who falsely represents himself or herself as a veteran or ex-serviceman of any war in which the United States was engaged, in connection with the soliciting of aid or the sale or attempted sale of any property, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Any person who falsely claims, or presents himself or herself, to be a veteran or member of the Armed Forces of the United States, with the intent to defraud, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), any person who, orally, in writing, or by wearing any military decoration, falsely represents himself or herself to have been awarded any military decoration, with the intent to defraud, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(2) This offense is an infraction or a misdemeanor, subject to Sections 19.6, 19.7, and 19.8, if the person committing the offense is a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States.
(3) For purposes of this subdivision, “military decoration” means any decoration or medal from the Armed Forces of the United States, the California National Guard, the State Military Reserve, or the Naval Militia, or any service medals or badges awarded to the members of those forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of that badge, decoration, or medal, or any colorable imitation of that item.
(d) This section does not apply to face-to-face solicitations involving less than ten dollars ($10).
(e) This section, Section 3003 of the Government Code, and Section 1821 of the Military and Veterans Code shall be known and may be cited as the California Stolen Valor Act.
532c. Any person, firm, corporation or copartnership who knowingly and designedly offers or gives with winning numbers at any drawing of numbers or with tickets of admission to places of public assemblage, any lot or parcel of real property and charges or collects fees in connection with the transfer thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
532d. (a) Any person who solicits or attempts to solicit or receives money or property of any kind for a charitable, religious or eleemosynary purpose and who, directly or indirectly, makes, utters, or delivers, either orally or in writing, an unqualified statement of fact concerning the purpose or organization for which the money or property is solicited or received, or concerning the cost and expense of solicitation or the manner in which the money or property or any part thereof is to be used, which statement is in fact false and was made, uttered, or delivered by that person either willfully and with knowledge of its falsity or negligently without due consideration of those facts which by the use of ordinary care he or she should have known, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(b) An offense charged in violation of this section shall be proven by the testimony of one witness and corroborating circumstances.
(c) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to limit the right of any city, county, or city and county to adopt regulations for charitable solicitations which are not in conflict with this section.
532e. Any person who receives money for the purpose of obtaining or paying for services, labor, materials or equipment incident to constructing improvements on real property and willfully rebates any part of the money to or on behalf of anyone contracting with such person, for provision of the services, labor, materials or equipment for which the money was given, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; provided, however, that normal trade discount for prompt payment shall not be considered a violation of this section.
532f. (a) A person commits mortgage fraud if, with the intent to defraud, the person does any of the following:
(1) Deliberately makes any misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission during the mortgage lending process with the intention that it be relied on by a mortgage lender, borrower, or any other party to the mortgage lending process.
(2) Deliberately uses or facilitates the use of any misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission, knowing the same to contain a misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission, during the mortgage lending process with the intention that it be relied on by a mortgage lender, borrower, or any other party to the mortgage lending process.
(3) Receives any proceeds or any other funds in connection with a mortgage loan closing that the person knew resulted from a violation of paragraph (1) or (2) of this subdivision.
(4) Files or causes to be filed with the recorder of any county in connection with a mortgage loan transaction any document the person knows to contain a deliberate misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission.
(b) An offense involving mortgage fraud shall not be based solely on information lawfully disclosed pursuant to federal disclosure laws, regulations, or interpretations related to the mortgage lending process.
(c) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an order for the production of any or all relevant records possessed by a real estate recordholder in whatever form and however stored may be issued by a judge upon a written ex parte application made under penalty of perjury by a peace officer stating that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records sought are relevant and material to an ongoing investigation of a felony fraud violation.
(2) The ex parte application shall specify with particularity the records to be produced, which shall relate to a party or parties in the criminal investigation.
(3) Relevant records may include, but are not limited to, purchase contracts, loan applications, settlement statements, closing statements, escrow instructions, payoff demands, disbursement reports, or checks.
(4) The ex parte application and any subsequent judicial order may be ordered sealed by the court upon a sufficient showing that it is necessary for the effective continuation of the investigation.
(5) The records ordered to be produced shall be provided to the peace officer applicant or his or her designee within a reasonable time period after service of the order upon the real estate recordholder.
(d) (1) Nothing in this section shall preclude the real estate recordholder from notifying a customer of the receipt of the order for production of records, unless a court orders the real estate recordholder to withhold notification to the customer upon a finding that this notice would impede the investigation.
(2) If a court has made an order to withhold notification to the customer under this subdivision, the peace officer who or law enforcement agency that obtained the records shall notify the customer by delivering a copy of the ex parte order to the customer within 10 days of the termination of the investigation.
(e) (1) Nothing in this section shall preclude the real estate recordholder from voluntarily disclosing information or providing records to law enforcement upon request.
(2) This section shall not preclude a real estate recordholder, in its discretion, from initiating contact with, and thereafter communicating with and disclosing records to, appropriate state or local agencies concerning a suspected violation of any law.
(f) No real estate recordholder, or any officer, employee, or agent of the real estate recordholder, shall be liable to any person for either of the following:
(1) Disclosing information in response to an order pursuant to this section.
(2) Complying with an order under this section not to disclose to the customer the order, or the dissemination of information pursuant to the order.
(g) Any records required to be produced pursuant to this section shall be accompanied by an affidavit of a custodian of records of the real estate recordholder or other qualified witness which states, or includes in substance, all of the following:
(1) The affiant is the duly authorized custodian of the records or other qualified witness and has authority to certify the records.
(2) The identity of the records.
(3) A description of the mode of preparation of the records.
(4) The records were prepared by the personnel of the business in the regular course of business at or near the time of an act, condition, or event.
(5) Any copies of records described in the order are true copies.
(h) A person who violates this section is guilty of a public offense punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
(i) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) “Person” means any individual, partnership, firm, association, corporation, limited liability company, or other legal entity.
(2) “Mortgage lending process” means the process through which a person seeks or obtains a mortgage loan, including, but not limited to, solicitation, application, origination, negotiation of terms, third-party provider services, underwriting, signing and closing, and funding of the loan.
(3) “Mortgage loan” means a loan or agreement to extend credit to a person that is secured by a deed of trust or other document representing a security interest or lien upon any interest in real property, including the renewal or refinancing of the loan.
(4) “Real estate recordholder” means any person, licensed or unlicensed, that meets any of the following conditions:
(A) Is a title insurer that engages in the “business of title insurance” as defined by Section 12340.3 of the Insurance Code, an underwritten title company, or an escrow company.
(B) Functions as a broker or salesperson by engaging in any of the type of acts set forth in Sections 10131, 10131.1, 10131.2, 10131.3, 10131.4, and 10131.6 of the Business and Professions Code.
(C) Engages in the making or servicing of loans secured by real property.
(j) Fraud involving a mortgage loan may only be prosecuted under this section when the value of the alleged fraud meets the threshold for grand theft as set out in subdivision (a) of Section 487.
Defenses to Petty Theft
You have a number of defenses available to you if charged with petty theft.
Lack of intent
Many clients are arrested by overzealous security officers in stores or other establishments and charged with shoplifting or petty theft. A great number of defendants simply were distracted by children, a phone call, meeting someone or other reason and forgot they had the item on them.
Good Faith Belief the Item Was Yours
Either the item allegedly stolen did belong you or you had a good faith or well-founded belief that it did belong to you because a relative or trusted friend or partner so advised you.
Owner Consented to Your Possession
Sometimes someone will agree to transfer title or ownership to you of property and then change their mind. If consent was given, it is a defense.
This might happen when someone who shoplifts an item panics or someone wants to play a prank and secretly plants the stolen item on an unsuspecting shopper.
Penalties for Petty Theft
First offenders, or those with no other theft or theft-related convictions or pending charges, may be able to have their offense reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction. An infraction is not a criminal offense and has a fine of up to $250. If the item taken had minimal value, such a shirt or pair of pants for $25, you have a good chance of our attorneys convincing the DA to reduce your charge.
If you were accused of taking an item valued at $50 or more, your Criminal Attorney Group lawyer may still be able to have you participate in a petty theft diversion program so that your record will be cleared so long as you repay the value of the item, perform community service and complete anti-theft classes.
Otherwise, petty theft is a misdemeanor and is punishable by:
- jail time up to 6 months
- and/or a fine up to $1,000
Call the Criminal Attorney Group if you or a close friend or relative has been charged with petty theft or any other theft-related offense. We offer reasonable rates and will discuss your legal options with you at a free, initial consultation.