Depending on the circumstances revolving around the charge, petty theft is prosecuted and handled under various California Penal Code Section 484 & 488.
Theft – Grand Theft v. Petty Left
Theft is defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property. The difference between petty theft and grand theft (covered under California Penal Code Section 487 PC) is defined by the type and value of the property that has been stolen. California Penal Code Section 484 & 488 both cover petty theft. Below are the differences between the two.
California Penal Code Section 484
Penal Code Section 484, also known as a petty theft violation, includes many degrees of theft. Violating Penal Code Section 484 is a significant criminal offense with many consequences including: jail time, probation, and extensive fines. To prove a person has committed petty theft, a prosecutor needs to prove the defendant not only took possession of something owned by another person, but they they also took it without the owner’s consent. To prove petty theft, it must also be shown that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of their property.
California Penal Code Section 488
Petty theft charged under Penal Code 488 may be charged as a lesser crime, either a misdemeanor or an infraction. A theft is classified under this penal code because it is the theft of goods worth less than $950. A common example of violations of PC 488 is shoplifting. Though this is a misdemeanor, it can still result in a permanent record for the accused. This crime is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment in county jail not exceeding six months, or both.
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