If you have been arrested for the crime of Petty Theft (Larceny), call experienced criminal defense lawyer Max Gorby at (323) 477-2819.

California Penal Code Section 484 – (a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft. In determining the value of the property obtained, for the purposes of this section, the reasonable and fair market value shall be the test, and in determining the value of services received the contract price shall be the test. If there be no contract price, the reasonable and going wage for the service rendered shall govern. For the purposes of this section, any false or fraudulent representation or pretense made shall be treated as continuing, so as to cover any money, property or service received as a result thereof, and the complaint, information or indictment may charge that the crime was committed on any date during the particular period in question. The hiring of any additional employee or employees without advising each of them of every labor claim due and unpaid and every judgment that the employer has been unable to meet shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud.


An estimated 2,152 fewer defendants will be sent to state prison by December 2011 because of California Assembly Bill 2372 (2009-2010 regular session), which raised the threshold dollar amount separating petty theft and grand theft from $400 to $950. The California Grocers Association opposed the bill, while the following organizations supported it: American Civil Liberties Union, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Public Defenders Association, Friends Committee on Legislation, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and SEIU Local 1000.


Recent Cases:


People v. Vinson, F059302, COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT, 193 Cal. App. 4th 1190; 123 Cal. Rptr. 3d 625; 2011 Cal. App. LEXIS 357, March 28, 2011, Filed


Effective September 9, 2010, Assembly Bill No. 1844 (2009–2010 Reg. Sess.), the Chelsea King Child Predator Prevention Act of 2010 (hereafter Assembly Bill 1844 or the act), amended section 666 to provide, in pertinent part: “(a) Notwithstanding Section 490 [(specifying the punishment for petty theft)], every person who, having been convicted three or more times of petty theft, grand theft, auto theft under Section 10851 of the Vehicle Code, burglary, carjacking, robbery, or a felony violation of Section 496 and having served a term therefor in any penal institution or having been imprisoned therein as a condition of probation for that offense, is subsequently convicted of petty theft, then the person convicted of that subsequent offense is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison.” (Italics added.)

Clearly, new subdivision (a) of section 666 requires proof of at least three prior convictions, not just one, for individuals who, have not suffered prior serious or violent felony convictions and who are not required to register as sex offenders. 6

It is true that the punishment for violating the statute is the same under subdivision (a) of current section 666 as it was under former section 666, i.e., imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or in state prison. In other words, both versions of the statute describe a “wobbler”—an offense that is punishable either as a misdemeanor or as a felony. To be eligible for felony sentencing under section 666 as amended, however, it is no longer enough that the defendant previously have been convicted of a single specified theft-related conviction. Instead, three or more such qualifying convictions are now required. This change to section 666‘s sentencing factor (see People v. Bouzas (1991) 53 Cal.3d 467, 480 [279 Cal. Rptr. 847, 807 P.2d 1076]) is akin to adding an element to a crime or an enhancement, and benefits a defendant by making it less likely that he or she will qualify for felony-level punishment. Accordingly, Estrada’s reasoning applies. (See People v. Flores (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 1566, 1571 [44 Cal. Rptr. 2d 585].)

Please contact Attorney Max Gorby at (323) 477-2819 regarding any questions related to California Penal Code section  484 Petty Theft.