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Is Petty Theft the Same Thing as Shoplifting in California?

California law takes a hard stance against property and theft crimes of all sorts. It even assigns harsh penalties upon conviction for petty theft and shoplifting, which are widely considered the least serious of crimes. Anyone convicted of petty theft or shoplifting can be sentenced to 180 days in jail, $1,000 in fines, and restitution paid to the victim. They will also be given a misdemeanor mark on their criminal record.

But how do petty theft and shoplifting compare? Are they the same crime, as it is in many states?

In California, stealing or unlawfully taking property or service from someone else is petty theft as long as the value of the property or service does not exceed $950. Stealing or unlawfully taking a service or property valued under $950 constitutes the crime of shoplifting if the property or service is taken from an open establishment. In other words, shoplifting is petty theft that occurs within a public establishment or store. The crimes even have separate legal statutes, despite being quite similar in definition and in how the prosecution will go about its casework.

Defending Your Good Name from a Misdemeanor Charge

Whether you were charged with petty theft or shoplifting, you need to be aware it is a misdemeanor regardless. As soon as you get a misdemeanor or felony on your criminal record, your reputation will be damaged. Employers will be likely to shelve your job application, educational institutions might turn you away, and even landlords will be less likely to let you rent from them – all because of one petty theft or shoplifting conviction.

The right approach to the situation is acting quickly and connecting with a theft crimes lawyer you can trust with your case, no matter how complex the details may be. At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., our Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney has been selected to Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ several times for his skill, success, and client focus. Put that caliber of service in your corner for your petty theft or shoplifting case today by calling (707) 418-5352 to schedule a free case review.