Burglary and Theft

Glendale Burglary and Theft Crime Defense Attorneys Serving Los Angeles County

A theft crime is a crime that involves unlawfully depriving someone of their property or its value. Taking, using, or stealing another person’s property without permission can be punishable under one of several different California theft crime statutes. Theft crimes cover a wide range of conduct, from shoplifting to armed robbery, embezzlement, or forgery. Penalties for theft crimes can range from a slap on the wrist to a felony conviction and years in prison, depending upon the amount of property taken, the conduct of the defendant, and other factors.

If you’ve been arrested or charged with burglary or other theft crimes in Los Angeles, you need a dedicated California theft crime defense lawyer in your corner as soon as possible. Talk to the skilled criminal defense lawyers at McReynolds Vardanyan after your theft crime arrest to discuss your options and start building a strong defense today.  Do not let a theft arrest derail your life.

Petty Theft

California Penal Code Section 484 criminalizes theft, the basic form of larceny. Theft is the taking of or fraudulently appropriating someone else’s property. The theft can involve anything of value, including money, labor, real property, or personal property. Chapter 5 of the Penal Code lays out the various forms of theft.

The most basic level of theft is petty theft, which involves stealing property worth $950 or less. At its base, petty theft is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If the amount stolen was $50 or less, the prosecutor can instead charge the defendant with an infraction. Defendants with multiple convictions can face harsher penalties for petty theft.

Grand Theft

When the property taken is worth more than $950, the defendant can be charged with grand theft. Grand theft may also apply when one of several other aggravating factors is present, such as when the theft involves livestock, real estate, or credit card fraud.

Grand theft may be chargeable as a misdemeanor or a felony (meaning it is a “wobbler”), depending upon the circumstances of the crime. Among other factors, if a firearm is used in the commission of the crime, it will be charged as a felony. As a misdemeanor, grand theft is punishable by up to six months in jail. As a felony, grand theft is punishable by up to three years in prison.


Burglary is criminalized by California Penal Code Sections 459 and 460. Burglary occurs when a person enters a building intending to commit larceny or another felony. Burglary comes in two forms: Burglary in the first degree (a.k.a. residential burglary) and burglary in the second degree (a.k.a. commercial burglary).

Residential burglary applies when the defendant entered an inhabited dwelling (i.e., a residence), and includes typical residential buildings as well as houseboats, trailers, and other inhabited living spaces. Residential burglary is a felony punishable by two, four, or six years in prison.

Second-degree burglary, commonly called commercial burglary, is burglary in any other situation. Depending upon the circumstances, the prosecutor can charge the defendant with either misdemeanor or felony second-degree burglary. Section 459.5 specifically carves out “shoplifting” from burglary, which is theft of property worth $950 or less from a commercial establishment during normal business hours. 

Defending Against Theft Crimes

There are a number of potential defenses to theft crimes, depending upon the circumstances. In many cases, the key defense is eliminating the elements that make the crime more serious than petty theft. If the prosecution lacks evidence concerning one or more elements of the crime, or the evidence they do have is tainted (by, for example, police misconduct), then the charges could be reduced or dropped.

Many theft crime cases turn on, for example, the value of the property stolen, whether the defendant entered the building with the specific intent to commit a crime, whether the prosecution can prove that a firearm or other means were used in the commission of the crime, or whether the defendant had permission (or reasonably believed they had permission) to use or take the property. The government might be willing to accept a plea deal involving reduced charges, or your savvy defense lawyer may be able to undermine their proof of one of these elements enough to get the charges reduced or dropped. Talk to a knowledgeable California theft crime defense lawyer to discuss your options, protect your rights, and start building your defense.

Accomplished and Experienced California Theft Crime Lawyers

If you have been arrested for burglary, robbery, or other theft crimes in Los Angeles or anywhere in Southern California, our skilled and trial-ready theft crime defense lawyers are ready to protect your rights. Call the criminal defense legal team at McReynolds Vardanyan to start building your case today. We fight for your rights and your freedom.

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