Theft Crimes

Theft Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles

Theft crimes refer to criminal activity in which a person takes, uses, or steals another person’s property without permission. There are many different crimes that fit this definition, such as shoplifting, robbery, burglary, larceny, forgery, embezzlement, auto theft, and receiving stolen property. Although a large majority of theft cases involve these types of crimes, more and more theft crimes involve the unlawful taking of another person’s identity, as is the case in credit card theft, identity theft, and various fraud crimes. Not only do these crimes violate the victim’s privacy and sense of security, but they can also ruin the victim’s life for many years to come.

If you have committed a theft crime, you can expect to face rigorous criminal prosecution. Prosecutors feel very strongly about holding people who commit theft crimes accountable for their actions, and will do whatever is necessary to ensure you are found guilty of the charges. If convicted, you could be sentenced to time in jail or prison, mandatory counseling, probation or parole, large fines, restitution to the victim, and more. When faced with theft charges, do not leave yourself vulnerable to the prosecution. Protect your rights and freedom by contacting an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at the Goldstein Law Group right away. Let’s review some of the most common types of theft crime charges in Los Angeles County below.

Petty Theft – California Penal Code Section 484

The crime of “petty theft” is covered under California Penal Code Section 484. It’s described as the unlawful taking of property valued at under $950 without permission. Most petty theft charges occur when someone steals property belonging to someone else, such as shoplifting, but there are many other forms of theft that can be charged under Penal Code 484, which is legally described as follows:

“Anyone who steals, takes, carries, or drives away the personal property of another, or fraudulently appropriates property entrusted to them, or knowingly by false representation, defrauds another person of money, labor, or property, or who fraudulently obtains possession of money, or property, if guilty of theft.”

 A common example in Los Angeles County of petty theft includes a situation where someone walks into a grocery store and picks of an item, places it in their pocket, and walks out without paying. In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you of petty theft, they must be able to prove all the “elements of the crime,” including:

  • You took possession of property that was owned by someone else
  • You took the property without the owner’s consent
  • When you took the property, your intent was to permanently deprive the owner possession of their property
  • You moved the property and kept it for any period of time
  • The total value of the property was less than $950

Petty theft is typically a misdemeanor offense and a conviction carries up to 6 months in a county jail and a $1,000 fine. If the total amount stolen was less than $50, it can be charged as an infraction which carries only a $250 fine. If you have prior conviction, you could be charged with petty theft with a prior, which could become a felony.

Grand Theft – California Penal Code Section 487

The crime of “grand theft” is covered under California Penal Code Section 487. It’s described as the unlawful taking of property valued at more than $950 without permission. There are various forms of grant theft charges, including grand theft by embezzlement, by trick, false pretenses, and grand theft automobile and firearm.

Grand theft is a “wobbler,” which means the Los Angeles county prosecutor can charge the case as either a misdemeanor or felony case. A misdemeanor conviction for grand theft carries up to 6 months in county jail, fine, and informal probation. A felony conviction carries up to 3 years in a California state prison, a basic punishment of 3 years of informal probation, up to six months in jail, a $1000 fine, or both. Felony grand theft can be punished by 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison. Potential legal defenses always depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Some common defenses include insufficient evidence, you had a reasonable belief the items belong to you, among others.

Robbery – California Penal Code Section 211

The crime of “robbery” is covered under California Penal Code Section 211. It’s described as using physical force or fear to steal money or property from someone else.  In most cases in Los Angeles County, a weapon is used to intimidate the victim. This type of robbery could be charged as an armed or aggravated robbery depending on the circumstances. A robbery crime requires confrontation between at least two parties where force was used, or a threat of force.

A robbery conviction can carry a significant sentence. The exact penalties are based on a variety of different factors; such as if great bodily injury was inflicted or if a weapon was used to commit the crime. The values of the property taken doesn’t matter and you don’t have to actually possess the property to be charged with robbery. A common robbery case in Los Angeles County includes a situation where someone approaches another person and uses threats against a victim unless they give them their money.

Burglary – California Penal Code Section 459 and 460

Burglary is described as the crime of entering and trespassing into a structure with the intent to commit a crime. Under Penal Code Sections 459 and 460, burglary charges can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony case. It’s important to note there are two types of burglary charges.

First degree burglary is commonly known as “residential burglary” and always a felony crime and a “strike” under California’s three strikes law. The Los Angeles County prosecutor must be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, you entered a building with specific intent to commit a crime. Second degree burglary is commonly known as “commercial burglary” and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony case. A common legal defense against either type of burglary charges are that you didn’t have specific intent to commit a crime when you entered the structure. Legal consequences can be harsh if convicted, which makes it critical for you to contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers early into your case.

Identity Theft – California Penal Code Section 530.5

Identity theft is a type of white collar fraud crime under Penal Code Section 530.5 that is committed when someone steals the identity of another person for personal gain. The “elements of the crime” for identity theft include:

  • You intentionally obtained the personal information of another person
  • You unlawfully used this information to acquire good or services
  • You did not have consent from the victim to use their information

Identity theft is a also “wobbler” and can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony case. A misdemeanor conviction carries one year in the county jail and a fine. A felony carries up to 3 years in jail and fines. Common legal defense against identity theft charges are to attack each element of the crime listed above because the prosecutor has prove each one to secure a conviction. For example, if our criminal defense attorneys can cast doubt that you intentionally obtained someone identity to unlawfully acquire something of value, you have a chance of avoiding a conviction.

Receiving Stolen Property – California Penal Code Section 496

Receiving stolen property under Penal Code Section 496 is described as buying, concealing, receiving, or possessing property of someone else knowing the property was taken by unlawful means. In order to be convicted, the LA County prosecutor has to be able to prove you bought or received stolen property and you knew it was stolen. This type of crime is commonly known as a specific intent crime, meaning whoever receives the property must have known at the time it was stolen. Prosecutors will typically attempt to prove this critical element of the crime with circumstantial evidence, such as showing you concealed the property in some manner to hide it from the owner.

Receiving stolen property in yet another “wobbler” offense and normally based on the value of the property. If the value of the property is under $400, it’s a misdemeanor that carries up to one year in county jail and a fine. If greater than $400 and/or you have a prior conviction, it’s a felony with increased penalties.

Other Common Theft Crimes in Los Angeles

California Penal Code Section 459 – Auto Burglary
California Penal Code Section 215 – Carjacking
California Penal Code Section 484(e) – Credit Card Fraud
California Penal Code Section 503 – Embezzlement
California Penal Code Section 186.10 – Money Laundering
California Penal Code Section 666 – Petty Theft with a Prior
California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1) – Grand Theft Auto
California Penal Code Section 487(d)(2) – Grand Theft Firearm
California Vehicle Code 10851 – Joyriding

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer

If you have been accused of any type of theft related crime, you need to consult with the highly skilled Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group. We have decades of experience and have developed defense strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. The first step is to let us thoroughly review the details of your case. Our law firm handles cases throughout LA County. Our office is located in Hollywood at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact us at 323-461-2000.

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