California law defines a felony as a crime with a jail sentence that is longer than one year, and the accused is fined for more than $1,000. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime, such as trespassing. The sentence does not exceed one year, and the fine is lower than $1,000.
How do I know if a theft case is a misdemeanor or a felony?
Prosecutors classify theft using two points of reference: the value of the stolen property and the method used to commit the offense.
– Petty theft cases in which the accused stole property that is worth lower than $950.
– Most shoplifting cases are misdemeanors as long as the individual does not steal more than $950 worth of property.
– The object was not stolen from the person’s clothes or body.
– Grand theft cases of property worth more than $950.
– Stealing multiple items in one theft plan and the individual sum of each property’s value equals more than $950. It also applies if the accused stole from the same shop on different theft events. The charges won’t be separate.
– Stealing a motor vehicle (grand theft auto).
Sometimes, petty theft can’t be classified as a misdemeanor, but at the same time, it’s not severe enough to consider it a felony. This gray area is known as a wobbler.
What does this mean?
Let’s say you stole a coffee machine with an $80 price tag. Therefore, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. Simple as that, right? Then, the judge takes a look at your criminal history and finds previous petty theft charges or maybe even a violent offense. Because of similar factors, many theft misdemeanors end up being wobblers, and this is where it gets complicated.
The court has the final say when it comes to downgrading it to a misdemeanor or declaring it a felony. You can still save yourself from an unfair decision, but to do so, you must contact an attorney from our firm at Zarabi Law in Los Angeles. We have experience reducing the severity of the punishment and help our clients avoid a lengthy sentence.