Process for Reducing Theft Felony Offenses to Misdemeanors

- Dmitry Gurovich

California’s Proposition 47 which was intended to reduce jail congestion has led to numerous applications for re-sentencing and reclassification of theft crimes and other qualified felonies. The new law is expected to benefit some 10,000 inmates who are currently serving sentences for non-serious and nonviolent crimes.

Theft Offenses Reduced to Misdemeanors

The offenses of Grand Theft and Receiving Stolen Property are now reduced to petty theft misdemeanors, as long as the value of the property taken does not exceed $950. In addition, a new theft misdemeanor of shoplifting has been included in Section 459.5 of the Penal Code. Shoplifting is defined as:

Entering a commercial establishment with the intent to commit larceny, while the establishment is open, and where the value of the property taken does not exceed $950.

Procedures Available for Theft Sentences

The new law provides the following options to persons who have been convicted of theft felonies before the act took effect in 2014:

  • Persons currently serving felony sentences for theft offenses may petition the court for re-sentencing as a misdemeanor
  • Persons who have already served felony sentences may apply for reclassification of their crimes as misdemeanors


As with most laws, not everyone will qualify for misdemeanor re-sentencing or re-classification. The court may deny applications or petitions of persons with prior convictions for designated violent offenses or for a crime which requires registration as a sex offender.

Legal procedure

The recall or re-sentencing, however, is not automatic. The appropriate petition must be filed in court and the petitioner must establish that they satisfy the criteria for re-sentencing or re-classification. Depending on the circumstances of the petitioner, the court may issue an order recalling the first sentence and impose a new one for a misdemeanor.

If you are currently serving prison time for a theft felony under circumstances that would fall under the new definitions for theft misdemeanors, it’s important to speak to an experienced theft attorney about the possibility of re-sentencing. Your attorney should also be able to prepare the appropriate petition, present evidence to the satisfaction of the court, and ultimately obtain a reduced sentence or charge under your circumstances.

In Los Angeles, California, the law firm of Gurovich, Berk & Associates has over 35 years of combined experience handling theft-related charges and achieving positive outcomes. We invite you to call us today at (213) 385-1555 to speak to one of our dedicated attorneys about your situation.