Petty theft, or a violation of Penal Code Section 484-488, is when someone steals an item or items of value when that item(s) doesn’t have a large dollar value. It used to be that if what was stolen was worth less than $400.00 is was clearly a misdemeanor violation, commonly called petty theft. If the value was more than $400.00 it became a violation of Penal Code 487 and a possible felony.
Recently, perhaps as a sign of inflation or a recognition that everyday items just cost more, the law has changed to increase threshold of felony grand theft to $950.00. If whatever is stolen is worth less than $950.00 than the charge will be a misdemeanor petty theft.
A common occurrence is when someone steals from a store, such as Nordstrom’s Department Store, the value can quickly exceed the $950.00 grand theft value. The District Attorney has the choice to file this case as a felony or a misdemeanor. Even though it could be a felony, it doesn’t have to be. The District Attorney, or whoever is the prosecutor, has the discretion to file a felony or a misdemeanor.