Understanding the Complex Areas of San Francisco Theft Law

San Francisco theft law establishes the charges and penalties that apply if a person is accused of stealing another’s property. Read more in this comprehensive overview.

Why You Need an Attorney Who’s Well-Versed in San Francisco Theft Law


Many areas fall under the category of San Francisco theft law, and you can be found guilty of violating one of them whether you believe you are guilty or not. In fact, many “innocent” people find themselves facing adverse consequences merely because they failed to seek adequate legal counsel.

If you were arrested for stealing, you would be read your Miranda Rights to inform you of how the following steps will proceed. Often, when being arrested, people panic. They are unable to concentrate on listening and may not understand their legal rights.

When you are charged with theft, you should hire a theft lawyer in San Francisco, CA, as soon as possible.


Types of Crimes Covered by San Francisco Theft Law

There are several types of crimes covered by California Penal Code § 484-502. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Burglary
  • Credit card fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Grand theft
  • Identity theft
  • Larceny
  • Petty crimes
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Robbery
  • Shoplifting

Regardless of what you are accused of by law enforcement and why, consulting with a reputable lawyer about the matter is your first step in your fight against the charges.

What Is the Law on Theft in San Francisco?


So, what is the law on theft in San Francisco? Although there are varying aspects to this complex legal area, the first thing to remember is that you should pay close attention to your legal rights if you are arrested. These are short but powerful and should be adhered to by the arresting San Francisco police officers.


  1. You have the right to remain silent. Any question law enforcement officials ask before this right is read usually includes information regarding your name, address, and social security number; otherwise, they will get that data from your ID. After you are read your Miranda rights, however, anything you offer or say in response to questions can be used against you in your trial.
  2. You have the right to an attorney. After being processed at the police station, you will be allowed to arrange for an attorney who practices San Francisco theft law. If you can’t afford one, you might be offered the services of a public defender. It is important to note that these lawyers are often overworked and underpaid, making it difficult to immerse themselves into the intricate details of your case entirely.
  3. You have the right to due process. Although this isn’t in the Miranda Rights, it is a constitutional amendment and allows people to have their case presented before a jury of their peers. 

These rights remind you not to implicate yourself without the advice of an attorney and ensure that you are not automatically convicted upon arrest.


San Francisco Charges and Consequences for Theft

Depending on the type and severity of the crime, the charges and repercussions of stealing vary. They may be prosecuted as felonies or misdemeanors. Penalties can consist of a combination of fines, prison time, and life-long criminal records that can have adverse effects on your career and financial future.

The categories of crime include:

  • Grand theft is a felony and contains items valued at more than $950.
  • Petty theft is a misdemeanor and includes items valued at $950 or lower.
  • Shoplifting and the penalties for it are similar to petty theft. 

Violent crimes such as robbery may be charged as an assault, as well as theft in San Francisco, California. A reputable lawyer can help plan your defense.

San Francisco Law on Theft Like Burglary


The San Francisco law on theft clearly defines the differentiation between crimes and what punishments apply to each. According to section 461, burglary is punishable with the following:

  • Burglary in the first degree is punished by imprisonment for between two and six years.
  • Burglary in the second degree is punished by imprisonment for up to one year in the county jail.

A skilled attorney can help you navigate the complexities that your case requires.


San Francisco Petty Theft Law for Shoplifting


Shoplifting merchandise from Bay Area stores like Walgreens, CVS, Target, or a department store in San Francisco is a petty theft law violation. According to section 459.5, the difference between burglary and shoplifting depends on the time at which the retail theft occurs.

Shoplifting occurs when a person enters a commercial establishment during regular business hours and takes merchandise valued at $950 or less. If the store is entered outside of when the business is open, it is considered burglary. 

Employees have a responsibility to be aware of what individuals in the establishment are doing by monitoring videos and keeping an eye on the inventory so retail theft charges can be brought as quickly as possible.

When facing theft-related criminal charges of any kind, you may want to contact a theft lawyer from San Francisco, CA, to assist you. Many people make the mistake of thinking shoplifting and petty theft charges are too minor to require the help of an attorney. However, charges for property crimes can bring severe penalties, and having a lawyer on your side may make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Grand Theft San Francisco Law


Stealing an auto or property valued over $950 is considered grand theft under San Francisco law. One of the options your lawyer will consider is negotiating a plea bargain. This may result in lesser charges, and under some circumstances, your charges may be dropped entirely. 

Some of the contributing factors to the outcome of your case might include:

  • You have a prior criminal history, especially if you were convicted of similar crimes.
  • You are considered an upstanding citizen with good character references.
  • How strong the case against you is. The stronger the case, the less likely the prosecutor is to drop or reduce the charges.

Property crime in the Bay Area is considered a serious offense. As a greater number of people are having trouble making ends meet, California’s news media are constantly presenting reports calling for stiffer penalties to change the trend. As a result, San Francisco police officers are growing increasingly vigilant about thefts, so it’s vital to stay one step ahead with a solid defense if you are facing charges.

What Is the Punishment for Theft in San Francisco?


When you have been accused, you may wonder, “What is the punishment for theft in San Francisco?” It depends on whether it is considered a felony grand theft or a misdemeanor shoplifting crime.

Since a conviction can result in stiff penalties, you should immediately consult a lawyer with experience in San Francisco theft law to ensure your rights are protected when you have been accused of committing a theft crime. Depending on your situation, your attorney might be able to get your charges dropped or reduced. 

Call the Law Office of Valery Nechay to schedule a free consultation and discuss the right options for defending your case.


If you are under investigation or charged with a crime, I will consult with you in person and at no charge to you.