A Lawyer That You Can Trust


Torrance Theft Attorney

Defending Against Fraud Charges in Los Angeles County

Pat Carey prosecuted almost every crime there is in California during his 8+ year tenure with the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office. He even handled cases with the Major Fraud Division, involving wiretaps and some of the most complicated cases the county have ever seen.  He uses that insider experience to fight your case from the inside out.

California Theft and Larceny Laws

Theft (also called larceny) is a crime against property under the laws of California. To prove theft, a prosecutor must establish the defendant’s intent to permanently take or withhold the property owner’s possession or right to the property. The prosecutor must prove the defendant’s specific intent to steal in order to establish the elements of the crime. Theft can take on many forms depending on the type of property taken. The offense can involve personal property, money, or real property, as well as the value of labor or services.

Theft can take place entirely without the owner’s knowledge. However, theft may also occur after the owner entrusted the property to the defendant for a temporary or ongoing purpose. For example, an owner who loaned or rented property to another might become a victim of theft if the other person does not return the property within a specified period of time or after the owner has sent a written request for the property’s return.

The California Penal Code distinguishes between petty theft and grand theft, which are the two degrees of theft under state law. The degree depends on the value of the property involved in the crime. Grand theft is a more serious offense than petty theft. Section 487 of the Penal Code establishes grand theft when the  theft involves property, money, or labor valued above $950. The Penal Code also includes exceptions to the requirement of a $950 value to elevate a charge from petty theft to grand theft. A prosecutor can charge a defendant with grand theft when the theft involves: over $250 in domestic livestock, farm goods, or aquacultural products; over $950 in labor conferred over a period of twelve months; any property taken from the victim’s person; any property that is a car, horse, livestock, or a firearm; and other specified circumstances.

While California state laws historically treated theft and larceny as distinct crimes, modern laws have consolidated the terms under the California Penal Code. Section 490a specifies that laws using the terms “larceny, embezzlement or stealing” should be read as if they contain the term “theft.” Accordingly, California theft and larceny laws are one and the same.

Defenses Against Theft and Larceny Charges

  • Claim of ownership or right of possession
  • Mistake of fact or law
  • Owner’s consent
  • Entrapment
  • Intoxication resulting in a lack of intent to steal

Penalties and Sentences in California

The range of penalties and sentences for theft and larceny depend on the degree of the crime established by the prosecutor. Under California law, petty theft may be punished by a fine of up to $1,000, a term of imprisonment lasting up to six months, or both. For a petty theft of property valued below $50, a prosecutor has the discretion to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or infraction resulting in a fine of $250. However, prior criminal history may affect the prosecutor’s recommendations.

The Penal Code specifies punishment for grand theft as a term of imprisonment in county jail lasting up to one year or felony sentencing permitted by Section 1170(h) of the code. Felony sentencing may range from six months to three years, but prior criminal convictions can increase the severity of the sentence imposed by the state court or require imprisonment in state prison rather than in county jail. To obtain this type of sentence, the prosecutor must establish the circumstances of grand theft according to at least one of the provisions in the Penal Code.

Types of Theft and Fraud Cases We Represent

Commonly Asked Questions

What Defenses Are Available Against Theft & Larceny Charges in Torrance?

Several defenses can be utilized against theft and larceny charges in Torrance, including claiming ownership or right of possession, mistake of fact or law, owner's consent, entrapment, and intoxication that negates the intent to steal. Each defense requires a thorough understanding of the law and the specific circumstances of the case. Our attorney has extensive experience in Los Angeles County theft cases and can help develop a defense unique to your situation.

Why Should Someone Accused of Fraud in Torrance Choose Your Legal Services?

Choosing our legal services for fraud charges in Torrance offers the advantage of having a former prosecutor with insider experience from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office on your side. This unique perspective allows for a strategic defense that anticipates prosecution tactics and challenges evidence effectively. Our commitment to fighting for our clients' rights and our deep understanding of the complexities of fraud cases make us a strong ally in navigating the legal system and pursuing a favorable outcome.

Case Results

See How We've Helped Other People in Your Shoes
  • Cases Dismissed Los Angeles Superior Court, Long Beach
  • Probation Terminated Los Angeles - Central Criminal Courts Building
  • Charges Reduced Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse
  • Reduced Bail Top Torrance Courthouse
  • Case Dismissed Top Torrance Courthouse
  • “Found Pat to represent me on a case after I made a dumb mistake. I was completely clueless. Pat made is so much less stressful and most of all he negotiated a deal that ended up getting my case dismissed.” - Kristin B.
  • “Pat helped me with a troubling legal situation.  He made a very stressful process stress-free and was always available to explain each step of the process.” - Thomas B.
  • “He is exceptionally talented and knows his way around a courtroom better than most lawyers I’ve met. Pat is smart, aggressive and results oriented.” - Alan J.

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