Orange County Theft Crime Attorney

Orange County theft attorney

A criminal conviction on your record can have a lasting impact on your life for an indefinite period. It could be visible to potential employers, licensing boards, and romantic partners alike. Your record, whether it involves petty theft, grand theft, or felony grand theft, significantly shapes others' perceptions of you. Even if you have transformed your life for the better, overcoming the lingering impact of your past is still arduous.

At The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia, our seasoned Orange County criminal defense attorneys specialize in mitigating the repercussions of criminal charges. We excel in making these consequences disappear altogether when possible. This includes theft charges.

Committed & Knowledgeable Defense for Your Orange County Theft Charges

Committed & knowledgeable defense for your Orange County theft charges

The future can look uncertain if you have been arrested for a theft crime or are awaiting trial for your burglary or robbery charge.

Don't leave your future to chance, and don't try to navigate the complexities of the Orange County legal system on your own. Get legal representation that you can count on.

Get The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia on your side.

From start to finish, we'll be by your side, helping, supporting, and guiding you every step of the way. We will advocate tirelessly to safeguard your rights and work hard to get a positive outcome for your case.

We'll put our many years of knowledge and experience to work for you, regardless of the charges you are facing. No case is too big or too small. Call today for your free case review and get the legal assistance that you deserve.

What You Need To Know About Theft Crimes

There are a wide variety of illegal actions that fall under the theft crimes umbrella:

  • Shoplifting;
  • Petty theft;
  • Grand theft;
  • Burglary;
  • Motor vehicle theft;
  • Larceny;
  • Theft by a trick;
  • Theft by pretenses; and
  • Embezzlement.

Under California law, a theft crime is charged as grand theft if the value of the money, real property, labor, or property stolen exceeds $950. There is also certain prohibited property that is grand theft as well. Any property theft with a value less than $950 or items not on the prohibited list falls under petty theft.

Grand theft is a wobbler offense, which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. This adds to the complexity of theft crimes, and that is why getting a good attorney is a must.

Types of Theft Cases Handled by an Orange County Attorney

Types of theft cases handled by an Orange County attorney

At The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia, we handle all types of theft charges. So, if you face any of these theft charges, call and let us work with you to create a solid defense strategy and get you the best possible outcome for your case in Orange County.

Petty Theft and Shoplifting Cases

Shoplifting is a type of petty theft. Petty theft is defined by California Penal Code § 488 as property stolen that is less than $950.

California Penal Code 459.5 defines the crime of shoplifting as "entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950)." It is typically charged as a misdemeanor.

Grand Theft and Related Property Crimes

California Penal Code 487 defines grand theft as the theft of another person's property directly from their person, and the cost of that personal property exceeds $950. Stealing a firearm or motor vehicle is also grand theft, regardless of the value of that property.

Grand theft, being classified as a wobbler, means it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.

Embezzlement and White-Collar Theft Offenses

California Penal Code (CPC) §503 defines embezzlement as the illegal acquisition, by means of fraud, of another person's or business's property that has been entrusted to the perpetrator. Other crimes, such as wire fraud, may accompany an embezzlement charge.

Motor Vehicle Theft and Related Charges

Motor vehicle theft falls under grand theft and is defined under California Penal Code 487(d)(1). Also known as grand theft auto, motor vehicle theft arises when a person takes a car that does not belong to them with the intent of keeping it or keeping it for a long time. Another related charge is joyriding, which is covered under Vehicle Code 10851 VC, is the unauthorized taking or driving of a vehicle without the consent of the owner.

Identity Theft and Fraud Cases

Identity theft is taking another person's name, financial account, or social security number and using it for illegal purposes, typically financial gain. It is a wobbler offense, so a person charged with misdemeanor identity theft could have to pay a fine and spend up to a year in the county jail or both. A felony under this law carries a much heftier prison sentence, a higher fine, and restitution.

What To Do if You Are Charged With a Theft Crime

If you are charged with a theft crime, you should first hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. A theft conviction on your criminal record is damaging to your future. A good attorney will work to get the charge reduced or thrown out so your record is clean. They may be able to reduce your jail time as well.

Legal Consequences of Theft Crimes

Legal consequences of theft crimes

A theft conviction can have serious consequences and affect your life in many ways. If you are convicted of theft, you could face up to three years in prison for some charges, but even lesser charges could land you in county jail for up to six months or even a year.

Some theft charges might seem minor, but even shoplifting charges can be detrimental when they show up on your record. Furthermore, repeat offenders tend to get harsher penalties, such as more jail time and higher fines.

Possible Defense Strategies for Theft Cases in Orange County

Each case is different, but there are several common defense strategies that attorneys typically use in a theft case:

  • The accused is the owner of the property; thus, it is not stolen property.
  • The accused did not 1) intend to take the property and 2) intend to deprive the owner of it permanently.
  • The property owner gave the accused consent to take it.
  • The accused did not have any intention of stealing the property and made an honest mistake in doing so.
  • The accused was forced to take the property under threat of harm.
  • The accused would not have taken the property, but law enforcement induced him to commit a crime that he would have never committed otherwise.
  • The accused could not understand his actions and the legal ramifications due to a mental disorder or illness.

Challenging the Evidence Presented by the Prosecution

Challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution

There are many different types of evidence that the prosecution can present:

  • Witness statements and testimony;
  • Audio recordings;
  • Video recordings;
  • Photos; 
  • Digital evidence:
    • Texts;
    • Email;
    • Chats; and
    • Social Media.
  • Media that stores the digital evidence:
    • Phone;
    • Computer;
    • Tablet; and
    • Cloud.
  • Physical objects:
    • Clothing;
    • Vehicle;
    • Weapon; and
    • GPS.
  • Scientific findings:
    • Blood test results;
    • DNA; and
    • Fingerprints.
  • Demonstrative evidence to educate the jury and judge about elements of the case that may not be common knowledge or that require certain expertise:
    • Charts;
    • Displays;
    • Models; and
    • Expert witnesses.

The defense may try to go after any of the evidence that the prosecution is trying to use. They may present it in such a way that it could be deemed inadmissible in court, meaning that it can't be introduced or used against the defendant.

Establishing Lack of Intent or Mistaken Identity

Ignorance of the law is not the same as lack of intent. Ignorance of the law is not a viable defense, but lack of intent is. The defendant could have taken the item, not realizing it was stolen. They may have thought it was their property or that they had permission from the owner to take it.

A mistaken identity can be established with a good alibi. If the defendant can show that he was not in the area where the theft occurred when it occurred, it can be deemed a case of mistaken identity.

Proving Lawful Ownership or Consent in Disputed Property Cases

If the defendant can show proof of ownership, then the theft charges will be dropped. Likewise, if he can show that they had consent from the property owner, that can negate their theft charges. Some ways that the defense may prove consent include:

  • Text messages giving consent;
  • Emails giving consent;
  • Contracts;
  • The defendant had the keys (for a stolen vehicle); or
  • A witness testifies that they heard the owner give consent.

Exploring Diversion Programs or Alternative Sentencing Options

California has five types of diversion and alternative sentencing programs that keep offenders out of jail. Several of these programs can be applied to theft charges:

Community service – The defendant performs work that is beneficial to their community or neighborhood.

Home detention – Also called house arrest. The defendant is required to stay at home and has certain restrictions that he must adhere to. These may include visits with their parole officer or random drug testing.

Drug diversion – Defendants of minor drug offenses may be sentenced to a drug diversion program. If they complete the program, their drug charges are dropped.

Drug treatment programs – This is for defendants whose drug offenses did not involve violence. Under Proposition 36, they must plead guilty, but they would avoid prison time. Once they complete the program, they return to court, and the judge may choose to dismiss the charges, although that is not guaranteed.

Probation – Misdemeanors and felonies are eligible for this alternative sentencing option. The defendant must regularly report to an officer of the court, and they must fulfill certain responsibilities and requirements.

Schedule an Initial Consultation With Our Orange County Theft Attorney at The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia

Schedule an initial consultation with our Orange County theft attorney

If you have been charged with a theft crime, you don't have to go through it alone. You deserve the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you and protecting your rights. You get that and more when you choose The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia.

Call today for a free consultation and get the representation that you deserve.

Call us about your case today at
(714) 362-0157 for a
Free Confidential Consultation.

Our Newport Beach
5000 Birch Street, Suite 3000
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Phone: (714) 362-0157

Why Choose
Frances Prizzia Criminal Defense Lawyers


Client Centered Approach

Our clients are our priority, we listen & have your best interests in mind. Our philosophy is that crime is simply a symptom of a bigger issue that should be addressed.

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"Top 100 Trial Lawyers" by the National Trial Lawyers and Clients' Choice by Avvo.


Over 17+ Years of Criminal Defense Experience on your side.

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We think outside the box and never leave a stone unturned.

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You're in a difficult situation that requires attention. Our boutique legal team walks you through the legal process so you don't feel lost.


We are available 24/7 for emergencies & offer free confidential consultations.
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