Petty Theft

PETTY THEFT – CA Penal Code 484 PC

Petty theft, CA Penal Code 484 PC, is defined by the state as anyone who steals or takes somebody else’s property (up to $950

It’s important to note that firearms, livestock, and vehicles do not fall under CA Penal Code 484 but are treated as grand theft, CA Penal Code 487. Any property taken directly from a person (i.e. robbing) is also treated as grant theft.

A fundamental element of petty theft is that a defendant deprives the property’s owner of potential enjoyment or value. This is important because it eliminates the loophole of returning stolen property and not being punished. In other words, if somebody steals a CD from a store, they are not only stealing the store’s property but also a means for them to make money.


Petty theft in California is a misdemeanor. If a defendant is found guilty and convicted of petty theft they could face:

Up to six (6) months in county jail

Up to $1,000 in fines

Informal probation

Often times, if petty theft is a defendant’s first theft related crime, they will usually serve little to no jail time. In addition, if it is a defendant’s first theft related crime and the stolen property is valued at $50 or less it is possible to have the crime reduced to an infraction. If the crime is reduced to an infraction a defendant could face:

Up to $250 in fines

Community service

Anti-theft classes

Compensation to the owner of the stolen property