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San Diego Petty Theft Lawyer

Everyone makes mistakes, and petty theft is a relatively minor offense. However, a conviction for petty theft may still involve serious penalties. Anyone facing such charges in San Diego needs a petty theft attorney.

If you or a loved one face petty theft charges in southern California, contact George H. Ramos, Jr. today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Diego petty theft lawyer.

Why Hire Our Firm?

  • George H. Ramos, Jr. is a former prosecutor. After 8 years in the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, he opened his own defense firm in 2002. Attorney Ramos more than 20 years of experience with criminal cases.
  • George H. Ramos, Jr. has built a strong network of contacts in the California court system and understands how San Diego prosecutors approach petty theft cases.
  • Our firm believes in an aggressive defense of our clients’ rights and works toward having charges dropped or reduced whenever possible.
  • We offer potential clients free initial case evaluations. During these meetings, they can better understand the finer points of their charges without needing to make any financial commitment.

Is an Attorney Necessary for a Petty Theft Charge?

California lawmakers have enacted many recent changes to the California Penal Code, and some of those changes pertain to theft charges. Depending on the value of the stolen property involved in a theft case, the offender faces several possible consequences.

If the value of the stolen property in a theft case is low enough, a petty theft attorney may be able to argue on the offender’s behalf and have the charge reduced to an infraction with a small fine instead of potentially heftier fines and even jail time.

California Petty Theft Laws and Penalties

California Penal Code Section 484a includes the state’s definition of theft as a criminal offense and outlines the conditions for a positive conviction. Theft is the act of intentionally depriving another party of legally owned personal property.

Some examples of theft:

  • stealing another person’s car (if the value is under $950)
  • stealing something from the store
  • taking money out of a cash register or deposit box at work
  • stealing another person’s wallet or personal items
  • borrowing your neighbor’s lawnmower and refusing to return it

Ultimately, the value of the stolen property in question and the way the offender stole it are the most important factors in any theft case.

Petty theft is the designation for theft of property valued under $950, and California Penal Code Section 490 lists the possible punishments as fines up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both. When petty theft occurs in a retail establishment or business, the designation may shift to shoplifting, covered in California Penal Code Section 459.5.

A San Diego defense attorney may be able to argue such a charge down to an infraction under certain circumstances. This is only an option if the offender stole $50 or less worth of property and it was his or her first arrest for any type of theft-related crime.

Possible Defenses Against Theft Charges

Theft is the act of knowingly taking another party’s property. If you engaged in any theft, proving your innocence is often not an option. You must instead rely on your San Diego petty theft attorney to help you plead to minimal charges or secure lenient sentences.

However, there are rare occasions in which a defense may be available. Mistaken ownership could be one such defense. If the accused thief honestly believed the stolen property in question was his or her rightful property or mistook another person’s property for his or her own, these issues typically arise during or shortly after an arrest before any formal legal proceedings can begin.

Unless your theft case was a simple misunderstanding you can clear up on your own with the other party, you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side to avoid potential jail time and expensive fines. Contact George H. Ramos, Jr. today to schedule a free consultation with a San Diego petty theft attorney. We can let you know how our firm can assist you.

Free Initial Consultation

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Who you hire as your defense attorney can be even more important than what criminal charges you are facing.


Call us at (619) 231-1830 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Our San Diego Crime Defense Firm serves clients throughout Southern California including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, and neighboring communities.