California Penal Code 484(a) PC | Petty Theft

Petty theft is a “priorable” which means that any subsequent convictions of Petty Theft can make the sentences harsher. Petty theft is commonly committed within department stores – e.g., J.C. Penny, Walmart, Nordstrom’s, and Bloomingdales. The dollar amount of the item taken need only have some intrinsic value and need not be overly expensive. If the amount exceeds $950, the prosecuting attorney may elect to charge that person with grand theft. In some instances, the prosecutor may charge someone with commercial burglary if they can prove a person harbored the intent to commit a theft crime prior to entry.

Contact Attorney John Rogers Immediately

Los Angeles Petty Theft Lawyer John Rogers is committed to providing each client aggressively, affordable, and trusted legal representation. Whether you’re charged with a minor offense or a serious felony, Mr. Rogers makes himself available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and works tirelessly to achieve the best possible result for each client. The best approach to defeating a petty theft charge is early criminal defense attorney intervention, contact Mr. Rogers immediately.

Petty Theft Defined by California Statute

In California, Penal Code section 484(a) states:

“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.”

Elements of the Crimes

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of petty theft, the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant took possession of property owned by someone else
  2. Defendant took property without the owner or agents consent;
  3. When the defendant took the property, he or she intend to deprive the owner of it permanently or remove it from the owner’s or owners agent’s possession for so extended period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property;
  4. Defendant moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief.

What is the Punishment for Petty Theft?

Like all misdemeanor offenses, if convicted of petty theft one can be incarcerated in the county jail not to exceed six months and court order probation, plus rehabilitative counseling classes. However, most persons qualify to defer any jail time or formal sentence from the court and earn the opportunity to have the case dismissed upon completing a court ordered diversion program. Importantly, a petty theft conviction can have a negative impact on your ability to obtain licensing from the state of California even after successful completion of a diversion program.

What are the Legal Defenses to Petty Theft?

If a person actually believes that he or she has a right to the property even if that belief is mistaken or unreasonable, such belief is a defense to theft. Another defense is that you lacked the required intent to commit a theft. For example, you inadvertently placed an item in your bag and forgot to pay for it. Or, the taking of the item was with permission from the owner.


Dan walked into the local grocery store to purchase food for dinner. He grabbed a small ingredient and placed it in his pocket. Dan continued to keep shopping. When Dan paid for all his groceries at the registered he forgot that he placed the ingredient in his pocket. As Dan was walking to his car he was detained by store security for petty theft. In this case, Dan is not guilty of petty theft because he did not harbor the requisite intent to commit a theft crime but instead forgot to pay for the item on accident.

Free Los Angeles Petty Theft Attorney Consultation

Petty theft can have a negative effect upon someone’s life and could infringe upon their ability for attaining state licenses or employment. The Law Offices of John D. Rogers has handled countless petty theft charges and obtained dismissals on behalf of clients. If you have been arrested or charged with Petty Theft, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call 877-888-9820 for a free consultation concerning your rights and defenses.