Every day, people across the state of California enter commercial establishments and take property without paying for the goods. Petty theft occurs for a host of reasons, such as a single mother facing financial hardships and needing to provide her children with food, clothes or school supplies.

On the other hand, some people are wrongly accused of petty theft altogether, and many people in this position have difficulty proving their innocence — especially because of the harsh stigma surrounding these charges.

Those accused of petty theft need to understand the potential penalties that lie ahead.

What is petty theft?

Shoplifting constitutes petty theft when one goes into a commercial establishment during business hours and steals property worth less than $950. Petty theft is typically treated as a misdemeanor, while other types of theft result in more serious charges.

For example, those who are accused of stealing from commercial establishments in other scenarios (such as the theft of property worth thousands of dollars) are charged with burglary.

Petty theft penalties

Those charged with petty theft in the state of California face up to six months behind bars and financial penalties of up to $1,000. To some, these penalties seem less significant when compared to other types of theft charges. However, petty theft cases derail lives and often lead to other hardships.

For example, those with theft charges on their record often struggle because of a shattered reputation and face hardships as they try to move forward in their careers. Those facing charges may find it beneficial to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney before proceeding.