How to Deal With Theft Misdemeanor Charges in California


You may face theft misdemeanor charges if you are accused of stealing property of a specific value. Learn more here from Valery Nechay’s law office.

What Is Considered a Misdemeanor Theft?

Misdemeanor theft is the stealing of property that is worth less than a certain amount of money. The value of the stolen property will determine the severity of the charge, with higher values resulting in more serious charges.

It is a common misconception that minor misdemeanor theft charges would not result in prison time; nonetheless, a theft conviction can result in both jail time and a hefty fine. The Court may also order the guilty person to pay compensation to their victim, depending on the circumstances.

The value of the property stolen is used to determine whether the theft is either a misdemeanor or a felony theft. The predefined value will fluctuate depending on the type of the purportedly stolen item. 

Regardless of whether a prosecutor considers it a misdemeanor theft or a felony, a person commits theft if:

  • They take someone else’s property

  • The appropriation of someone’s misplaced property

  • You are using a business’s service without paying for it

  • They receive stolen stuff

If you are accused of a theft crime, develop an attorney-client relationship with my law firm, and I will help you through this challenging moment.

Are Theft Crimes Considered Misdemeanors?

Petty theft offenses are prosecuted in California under Penal Code Section 484 PC, which encompasses both petty theft and the more serious accusation of grand theft.

Petty theft refers to any theft offense in which a person is accused of stealing property valued at less than $950, whereas grand theft refers to any theft crime in which the accused stole goods worth more than $950.


Theft crimes can encompass many offenses, including robbery, embezzlement, theft by trick, and theft by false pretense. 

A theft offense is typically a misdemeanor offense for first-time offenders, punishable by up to six months in county jail, a $1,000 fine, restitution for the amount taken, and/or probation. If the stealing property value is less than $50, the offender may merely be charged with an infraction.

It is possible to be charged with a previous petty theft if the defendant has a criminal history, which is a wobbler. As a result, it might be prosecuted as a misdemeanor theft or a felony theft.

Aside from that, any theft, regardless of the value of the stolen property, is considered a crime. A second-degree felony theft such as motor vehicle theft, firearm theft and other theft offenses that include stealing from a corpse, vulnerable adults, a hospital patient, disabled people, or a structure that was left vacant or damaged by a natural catastrophe constitutes criminal offenses.

When you’re confronting federal criminal accusations, it’s critical to contact an experienced federal criminal lawyer who knows how to handle these cases. I represent individuals charged with a variety of federal charges, including theft.

Whether a third-degree felony theft or a misdemeanor theft, the potential consequences of a conviction are significant. Give me a call at 650-761-0148 today for a free consultation on your case. It’s time to act and defend your rights!

When Is Theft a Misdemeanor?

There are various techniques to distinguish between the two sorts of theft accusations in California. It is founded on the following principles:

1) Using the Worth of the Stolen Goods as a Guideline

Under California state regulations, the value of the goods allegedly taken affects whether you will be prosecuted with a felony theft or misdemeanor theft. It also influences the seriousness of the offense.


You are more likely to face a felony charge if the value is believed to be $1000 or more. Any theft offenses that are less than that are prosecuted as a misdemeanor. While thefts of modest value are usually regarded as misdemeanors, if the stolen goods include a firearm or motor vehicle, such criminal charges might be punished as felonies.

2) Depending on the Sort of Robbery

As previously mentioned, thieves in California conduct a variety of thefts, which affects whether they are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Petty theft charges and shoplifting, for example, are misdemeanors.

Still, grand theft is a wobbler, meaning it may be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the value of the stolen object. Grand theft auto, swindle theft, robbery, and armed robbery theft are all classified as felonies.

3). Theft Convictions in the Past

The third and last technique to distinguish between felony and misdemeanor crimes is to look at prior theft convictions. If you have a past conviction for any degree or kind of theft, your charges will almost certainly be increased by one bracket, and your charges will be raised two brackets if you have two (or more) prior convictions.

Though all of these theft cases were pushed up during the last five years, even if they were all prosecuted as misdemeanors, the most recent theft offense (regardless of its amount) will be charged as a felony offense.

How Long Does Misdemeanor Theft Stay on Record?

Unless you successfully ask for expungement, misdemeanor theft charges remain on your record for the rest of your life. Misdemeanor offenses do not have a specific “expiration date.” Even though misdemeanor charges are less severe than felonies, they are severe legal violations.

If you are not convicted or found guilty, you have two opportunities to get misdemeanor charges removed from your record. Having your history erased is the first option. This implies that the information will be deleted from your public record.

There are various circumstances in which you may get such charges dismissed. These are some of them:

  • The charge was eventually dismissed
  • Although you were arrested, no charges were filed

  • The theft case was ultimately dropped

  • At your trial, you were found not guilty

You could also be able to work out a pre-trial plea deal with the District Attorney’s office. If you are charged with battery or assault, for example, your battery defense lawyer may offer you the chance to go to treatment and finish the program in return for your record being wiped.

If any of the following circumstances apply to you, you must retain the services of one of San Francisco’s top criminal defense attorneys to help you get your record wiped. Keep in mind that your record will not be purged if you are guilty of a misdemeanor.

You can also choose to have your record sealed. It is not the same as having your record wiped, but it does keep information about your case out of the public eye. If you’ve got a “withhold of adjudication,” you might be able to have your record sealed.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Misdemeanor Theft?

According to studies, more than 80% of companies do background checks. Understandably, almost all employers are concerned about an employee who could steal from them or their customers.

Many companies are unaware that not all theft offenses are created equal; petty theft might involve as little as a candy bar or a pack of gum. Obtaining a job should be a lot simpler once the record has been cleared.

When you get your petty theft record erased, your employer won’t be able to view your arrest or court case. It can also let you say “no” to any inquiry concerning a criminal past.

The advantages of expungement differ by state, but they are always meant to help worthy persons reintegrate into society. In other words, after your record has been purged, finding work, housing, and educational prospects will be much easier. 

Expungement is generally accomplished by filing an application or petition with the court. The prosecution is usually served (which means supplied) with the petition as well. Most courts enable people to provide written testimony and any supporting evidence when filing a move or petition. 

Keep in mind that any papers filed with the court must also be disclosed to the prosecution. The court will review the petition to see if you are eligible and deserving. If the prosecution believes you are not qualified or worthy of having your petty theft charges dismissed, they may oppose.

Get Help From an Experienced Criminal Defence Attorney Today!


If you or someone you know has been charged with misdemeanor theft, I strongly encourage you to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will thoroughly assess your case and provide you with the best possible defense. They will also help you navigate the often-complex expungement process.

If you need a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, California, contact me at 650-761-0148 today!


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