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LOS ANGELES THEFT CRIMES ATTORNEY
Theft crimes vary substantially in how they are treated by the courts and by law enforcement.  Whether shoplifting a pack of gum or armed robbery of a bank, the law treats depriving another of their property very seriously.  Especially when violence, the threat of violence or the possibility of violence is involved.  Sometimes innocent people are falsely accused and sometimes otherwise good people make one mistake.  All theft crimes are considered crimen falsi (crimes of dishonesty) and can greatly affect your criminal record, employment, and even ability to testify in court.  Here is a breakdown of the different theft-related offenses under California law:

LOS ANGELES PETTY THEFT LAWYER
PC 484 and PC 488 make theft where the value of the goods stolen is under $950 a misdemeanor, petty theft.  This is the most common theft crime charged in California.  If the value of goods stolen is under $50, the misdemeanor can become an infraction.  PC 666 allows the prosecution to treat Petty Thefts as a felony if the defendant has a prior petty theft conviction.  In these cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate for a misdemeanor anyway.  Theft of items worth less that $950 can also be Grand Theft, and can be charged as felonies if the property stolen is a car (Grand Theft Auto), the theft involves a firearm (Grand Theft Firearm), or the property is taken directly from the person of another (Grand Theft Person).  With a strong defense, it is possible to win your case at trial or to avoid jail time with plea bargaining.

LOS ANGELES GRAND THEFT LAWYER
When the value of goods stolen exceeds $950, PC 487 provides that the defendant will be charged with Grand Theft.  Grand theft is a "wobbler" and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.  Even if initially charged as a felony, it can later be reduced to a misdemeanor with a 17B motion.  Additionally, with a pending grand theft case, an attorney can argue the valuation of the stolen items or whether an item was in fact taken "from the person of another."  Grand theft carries more severe penalties than Petty Theft and should be taken very seriously.

LA RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY ATTORNEY
PC 496 makes it a crime to buy, sell, conceal, or withhold any knowingly stolen property.  If someone is found in possession of stolen property, even without any evidence of a taking, they can be convicted of Receiving Stolen Property.  Like many theft crimes, PC 496 is a "wobbler" and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.  The best defense to this charge is to show that there was no way to reasonably know the property was stolen.

BURGLARY LAWYER IN LA
Pursuant to PC 459, entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony (or any theft) inside constitutes burglary in California.  This means that Burglary can be charged even when there is no theft.  For example, if someone breaks into a business to vandalize, that can be charged as a burglary.  There is no requirement that the defendant "break" in, steal anything or even commit any felony once in the structure.  So long as the defendant had an intent to commit a theft or felony when entering, he/she can be found guilty of burglary.  2nd Degree Burglary (not of a residence), is a "wobbler" and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

Residential burglary (1st degree) is treated much more seriously because of the likelihood that the event may escalate into violence.  Residential burglary is always a felony, a "strike" under California's three strikes law when someone enters an inhabited dwelling. 

Because intent is the key element to burglary, fighting a Burglary charge is possible.  Intent to steal or commit another felony could have occurred after entry, making it no longer a burglary.

ROBBERY
Under PC 211, it is a felony (and a "strike") to take any property from the person or presence of another by the use of force or fear.  This is the most serious of all theft crimes and is subject to substantial enhancements for use of a weapon, bodily injury to the victim.  The force requirement can be satisfied even after the taking took place.  For example, if a store catches and stops a shoplifter, and the shoplifter uses force to get away, they could be charged with robbery.  Even stealing items of small value could go from a small, Petty Theft to a felony that is also a "strike".

If you have any specific questions about California theft crimes not addressed above or are facing any of the charges discussed, contact my office for a free consultation with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
t: 323.803.4352 | f: 323.617.3838
www.iDefendLosAngeles.com
Nicholas.Loncar@iDefendLosAngeles.com
Sunset Law Building | 1295 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA | 90026

By Nicholas Loncar

 


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