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Theft Crimes Defense Lawyer in California

A theft crime can be committed in many different ways. Likewise, the penalties for a conviction on a theft crime will vary. The more serious the theft and the higher the value of the item taken, the more likely the penalties will be harsher. When charged with a theft crime, many people want to take the first plea deal offered. This is risky because oftentimes, they could fight the charge or negotiate a better plea deal. Speaking with a theft crimes defense lawyer in California will help you understand theft crimes and their consequences.

At the Law Office of Miles A. Harris, Esq., our theft crimes defense attorney handles all types of theft crimes cases. We work to make sure your constitutional rights are upheld and that you get the best defense you deserve. Contact us today at (559) 492-9572 to schedule a free initial consultation and to make sure your rights are protected.

Common Theft Crimes in California

A theft crime is a general term used to describe offenses that involve the taking of another person's property without their consent and with the intention to permanently deprive them of it. 

Theft offenses are also often referred to as property offenses. Common theft crimes include:

  • Shoplifting - taking goods away from a shop without paying
  • Larceny - taking someone's personal property
  • Auto theft - theft of a motor vehicle
  • Robbery - where the property is taken through the actual or threatened use of physical force

Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, theft crimes can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Aggravating circumstances include the type of property taken, the value of the property, and the offender's previous convictions for similar offenses.

Each jurisdiction has its own specific theft statutes that define the specific elements of any given theft crime. It is always important to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Fresno County to understand the elements and consequences of the exact theft charge laid against you.

Consequences of a Theft Conviction in California

The sentences for theft convictions vary depending on the jurisdiction, the circumstances of the case, and the seriousness of the offense.

Possible penalties include:

  • Fines
  • Restitution to compensate for the loss of property
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Parole
  • Imprisonment
  • Education classes

A conviction for a theft offense can also have long-lasting impacts on an offender's life beyond their sentence, especially in terms of finding employment. For example, a potential employer who runs a background check may view someone with a theft conviction as dishonest and be reluctant to hire them. 

Common Defenses to California Theft Charges

In all criminal cases, it is the prosecutor's responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. This standard of proof is a high bar. A good criminal defense lawyer will work hard to prove innocence or create doubt. Sometimes, this can be achieved by the use of specific defenses.

The potential defenses available to a defendant facing a theft charge depend on the specific circumstances of their case. Some common defenses include the belief in ownership, return of property, entrapment, intoxication, and coercion. 

The Belief in Ownership or Claim of Right

Where a defendant believes in good faith (or honestly believes) that the property they took was theirs or they had a valid claim to it, they may be able to defend against a theft charge. When this defense is raised, the defendant usually needs to provide some evidence to support it. 

Return of Property

If a defendant intended to return the property when they initially took it, they might also be able to defend against the charge. It is not a defense, however, if you return the property later to avoid a theft charge or conviction. That said, if convicted, returning the property may be a factor the court takes into account when determining a sentence. 


Law enforcement authorities can run a sting operation to try and catch suspected criminals. However, they cannot induce a defendant to commit an offense they otherwise would not have committed. If a defendant takes any property due to being induced by law enforcement, they may be able to argue the defense of entrapment. 


To prove a theft offense, the prosecution must establish that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property. If the defendant was intoxicated when they took the property, they may be able to argue they were incapable of forming the required intent. 


A defendant may be able to challenge a theft charge if another person forced them to take the property. For example, a person may use threats or blackmail to coerce you to take the property of another person. To argue duress, a defendant must show they committed the act as a result of an immediate and inescapable threat of bodily harm or death.

Three Critical Reasons to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Fresno County

You can successfully defend against theft crimes. But you cannot do it on your own. The laws are complex, the stakes are high, and you need someone with the expertise to develop a viable defense strategy.

With that said, here a five good reasons why you should hire our criminal defense lawyer.

  1. We provide the insight you cannot find online. We know everyone is googling answers for everything, and that includes criminal charges and defenses. Though you can find information on it, you cannot find information on how to best apply a defense in your unique case. There are critical nuances that can impact your case. We provide a real-life application to get results.
  2. We leverage the power of the prosecutor. The prosecutor determines whether a charge will be filed, whether a plea deal will be offered, and what will be in a plea deal. In cases where appropriate, we use the power of the prosecutor to negotiate better terms on your behalf. We can try to negotiate a deal that means reduced charges or lesser sentences, and this is especially important in theft crimes because the range of potential charges and punishment is wide.
  3. We are more than your criminal defense lawyer. As your lawyer, we will help you understand what's at stake, deal with all the deadlines and negotiations, and help you cope with your feelings throughout it all. You may feel fear, embarrassment, and anxiety. We know–we have seen it time and time again. But through our support and representation, we can alleviate some of the emotional issues may experience.

If you have been accused of committing a theft crime, you should speak to a theft defense attorney at the Law Office of Miles A. Harris, Esq. immediately. 

Contact a Theft Crimes Defense Attorney in Fresno County Today

Our criminal defense lawyer in Fresno County will review your case and explain your options, including any legal defenses available to you. We can also help you prepare a strong defense and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Call 559-492-9572 or submit an online form today, to discuss your case.


Miles A. Harris represents clients throughout the Central Valley area, including the counties of Fresno, Tulare, Merced, Madera, and Kings, as well as throughout the state of California.