Understanding the nature of property laws, and theft in particular, is sometimes a bit more complex than it may seem. In general, theft occurs when one party takes or withholds someone else's property or right to that property.
In general, accusations of theft often rely on proving intent on the part of the accused, which is not always so simple. In some cases, one party may sincerely believe that they rightfully own a certain piece of property, or believe that they have the owner's consent to have it.
Also, in some cases, it is possible to argue that an individual was intoxicated to a point where it was not possible to have any real intent to steal a piece of property.
Things can get exceptionally complicated if two parties have an agreement whereby one party allows the other to hold a piece of property for a certain purpose or time period and the terms of that agreement lapse or the holding party fails or refuses to return the property at the proper time.
Theft can even involve relatively intangible things like the value of a service or some act of labor. If one party completes a service for another and is not properly compensated, the lack of compensation can, in some circumstances, constitute theft.
If you are facing theft charges, it is important to consult with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. There may be many ways to solve the issue before it goes to court, but you must act quickly. Do not hesitate to seek out the help of an experienced attorney to preserve your own rights.
Source: FindLaw, "California Theft / Larceny Law," accessed June 01, 2017