How Long Do Prosecutors Have to File Criminal Charges?Published on November 7, 2018
How Long Do Prosecutors Have To File Charges in California?
If you or a loved one are under investigation for a crime in California, you likely want to ask a lot of questions. One of these may be how long Los Angeles prosecutors have to file criminal charges against you. The answer to that question depends on several factors. Most criminal cases have a statute of limitations, which is the period of time a prosecutor has to file charges or to seek a felony indictment against you from a grand jury. The specific statute of limitations depends on the crime you allegedly committed.
To learn more about criminal statutes of limitations and how long a prosecutor has to file charges, call a Los Angeles criminal lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. at 310-424-5816 to schedule a free consultation. You can also contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
California’s Criminal Statute of Limitations
California’s law regarding statutes of limitations for criminal cases can be found in California Penal Code (PC), Part 2, Title 3, Chapter 2, §§799-805: Time of Commending Criminal Actions.
In general, the law states:
- For felony crimes punishable by eight years or more in prison, charges must be commenced within six years of when the crime was committed.
- For felony crimes punishable by less than eight years in prison, prosecutors have three years from when the offense was committed to file charges.
- For misdemeanor crimes, charges must be brought within three years, two years, or one of the offense, depending on the specific details of the crime.
There are several statutes of limitations that address specific offenses and give Los Angeles prosecutors a longer period of time to file charges, so it’s important to retain the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney right away if someone alleges you committed an offense.
When the Statute of Limitations May be Paused, Delayed, or Extended
The statute of limitations is like a clock. On the date the crime was committed, the clock begins to run. The prosecutor has to learn of the crime, investigate, gather evidence, and file charges before the clock runs out of time.
However, there are many circumstances in which the clock does not start right away, the clock starts but it is paused in the middle, or the deadline extends.
For certain offenses in California, the clock does not begin to run until the crime is discovered or could reasonably be discovered. Law enforcement may not find out about a crime for months or years after it was committed, and in some cases, that is when the clock begins to run.
The statute of limitations on a crime may not begin until law enforcement have a suspect. This often happens with cold cases. A crime may have been committed years ago, but there were no viable leads at the time. Years later, new DNA information may be relevant to the closed case. This re-opens the file and may start the clock for the statute of limitations years after the date the crime was actually committed. In California, prosecutors have one year to file charges from the date DNA is used to establish a suspect. However, cold cases can be complicated. If you or a loved one are implicated in a cold case, call a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
When the defendant is out of the state, this allows the statute of limitations to be “tolled” for three years. In other words, it pauses. If the defendant is actively evading arrest, the statute of limitations is tolled indefinitely. Additionally, for certain felony sex crimes that are committed against minors, prosecutors have 10 years after the minor’s 18th birthday to file charges. The time to file charges is then extended until the victim’s 28th birthday.
There are many ways in which prosecutors can get a longer period of time before they file charges. If you are unsure of your rights, contact a Los Angeles criminal lawyer to review your situation.
Crimes Without a Statute of Limitations
Crimes that are punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole or death do not have a time limit, under PC §799(a). If you are accused of committing one of these types of crimes, then there is no limit to when Los Angeles prosecutors may bring a criminal case against you. This statute also says there is no statute of limitations for embezzlement of public money.
Under PC §799(b), there is no statute of limitations for certain sex crimes, such as child molestation, if it was committed on or after January 1, 2017, and for offenses for which the original statute of limitations had not run by January 1, 2017.
Are You Under Investigation? Call a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer for Help
Los Angeles prosecutors have varying periods of time in which they can file criminal charges for cases committed within the state. If you or a loved one are under investigation for a crime, and you feel like the issue is handing over your heads, call the criminal defense lawyers at Spolin Law P.C. for help. We will thoroughly review your situation and advise you of the relevant statute of limitations.
Will I Have to Serve Time for a California DUI Conviction?Published on October 24, 2018
Being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) can be a daunting situation for anyone. After being found guilty, you likely have many questions. You may wonder if and when you can get your license back. You may have concerns about how much you’ll have to pay in fines. The number one question most people have is whether they’ll face incarceration after a conviction. The law sets the maximum and minimum penalties you can receive for your offense. What your actual sentence is will depend on a number of factors.
A Los Angeles DUI lawyer will explain the possible sentences you can face for a DUI conviction. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a DUI in California, contact Spolin Law P.C. as soon as possible. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience dealing with DUI law. Contact us today at (310) 424-5816, or reach out via our online form to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.
Several Factors Can Impact Your Sentence
The sentence you receive for a DUI in California will depend on the circumstances that surround your conviction. Some of the factors may suggest that you deserve a lighter sentence. These are known as mitigating factors. Aggravating factors, however, will suggest that you deserve a harsher penalty.
In some cases, the prosecutor may offer you a plea bargain. This involves pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser punishment. The aggravating and mitigating factors of your situation will also play a large role in plea bargain negotiations.
What are Mitigating Factors?
When examining mitigating factors, the prosecution will be looking for reasons you deserve a lighter sentence. For example, if you were intoxicated by a medication that was legally prescribed to you, this could be a mitigating factor. Other factors that may reduce your penalties are:
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) being only slightly above the legal limit
- Voluntary completion of a counseling or substance abuse program
- Whether you are gainfully employed
Aggravating Factors in a DUI Case
By contrast, aggravating factors tell the court that you deserve a harsher sentence. Many times, the most aggravating factor is having multiple DUI convictions on your record. A criminal record of any kind can signal to the court that you do not deserve leniency. Other circumstances can increase your punishment, including:
- Having a BAC drastically over the legal limit
- Driving recklessly
- Driving excessively over the speed limit
- Driving with a revoked or suspended license
Possible Penalties for Your First California DUI Conviction
The minimum and maximum penalties for your DUI conviction will depend largely on your prior record. For your first DUI offense, California law allows a possible sentence of between 48 hours and six months in jail. If a judge orders probation, however, you are not required to serve any jail time. In general, judges are inclined to be lenient with first-time offenders. Each case, however, is unique. Your sentence will depend on factors like the ones discussed above.
Potential Jail Time Increases With a Second DUI Conviction
If you’re convicted of a second DUI, California law does prescribe jail time. The sentence for a second DUI conviction in California is up to one year in jail. However, there are several ways that you might avoid serving any term of incarceration. Depending on your circumstances, the judge may allow you to serve your sentence on house arrest. Alternatively, you could go through a work program rather than going to jail.
Penalties for a Third DUI
You will likely have to serve some jail time upon your third California DUI conviction. The penalty for a third DUI in the state is between 120 days and one year in jail.
Facing a DUI Conviction in California? Contact Us Today for Help
Your DUI sentence can be affected by any number of details. If you’re facing a conviction, you should enlist the help of a skilled DUI lawyer to explain how the law applies to you specifically. An attorney from Spolin Law P.C. can help determine what factors will affect your sentencing, how severe your sentence is likely to be, and if/how there is any chance of getting your sentence reduced.
To schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.
How Los Angeles Prosecutors Decide to File Charges in a Criminal CasePublished on October 10, 2018
If you are accused of committing a crime, it is up to a prosecutor to decide whether to file misdemeanor charges or to ask a grand jury to indict you for a felony. Prosecutors work for the government. They may represent a county, city, state, or the federal government. To convict you for a crime, the prosecutor must prove you committed each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The greater the likelihood of winning a criminal case against you, the more likely it is that a prosecutor will pursue charges. The weaker the evidence, the less likely a prosecutor is to pursue a criminal case. They do not have the time or resources to fight cases they are unlikely to win. They also do not want to tarnish their track record of success.
Given that many factors go into whether or not a prosecutor files charges, you should speak with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer as soon as you know you are under suspicion or are under investigation.
Spolin Law P.C. can help. Contact us online, or call (310) 424-5816 to request a free consultation.
How Los Angeles Prosecutors Decide to File Charges in a Criminal Case
When determining whether or not to pursue criminal charges, prosecutors will analyze:
A significant factor in deciding whether to file charges is the amount of evidence against you and the strength of that evidence. The more evidence there is against you, the better the situation is for the prosecutor. However, the type of evidence and its weight also matters. A great deal of circumstantial evidence, which relies on jurors making various assumptions, is not as strong as direct evidence of you committing the crime. Using their knowledge of California criminal law and their experience, the prosecutor will determine whether they have enough evidence to convince a jury you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Credibility of Witnesses and Victims
A part of analyzing the evidence is reviewing the testimony of the alleged victim(s) and witness(es). How credible are these individuals? Prosecutors have to determine how likely jurors are to believe each victim or witness. The less trustworthy or sympathetic a victim or witness appears, the less likely the juror is to believe their testimony. When a prosecutor believes a witness or victim may not be credible, then their testimony may be considered weak evidence.
The Circumstances Surrounding the Accusations or Arrest
At some point, the criminal matter has to come to the prosecutor’s attention. This may stem from an arrest or due to a law enforcement investigation. Then, the prosecutor closely reviews the current information, including the alleged criminal conduct, the environment where it occurred, and any other relevant factors that make the situation worse or better. For example, there is a difference between a first-time offender accused of possessing a small amount of cocaine versus someone with a criminal history being accused of possessing a large quantity of cocaine that is packaged for distribution.
The Possibility of a Plea Bargain
After reviewing the evidence and circumstances surrounding a case, the prosecutor will have an educated opinion on whether they can win the criminal case or not. However, winning at trial is not always the end goal. Prosecutors do not want every case to go to trial. Neither they nor the courts have time for this.
In many cases, prosecutors are hoping that a defendant will accept a plea bargain. You agree to plead guilty in exchange for a pre-determined penalty, which is often lighter than the maximum penalty you could be sentenced to by the judge. A prosecutor may bring a case that will be tough to prove at trial if they believe it is likely they can pressure you into accepting a plea.
Current Political Pressures
In Los Angeles County, a nonpartisan district attorney is elected as chief prosecutor every four years. They are responsible for running the District Attorney’s Office. Assistant district attorneys also staff this office. Because chief prosecutors are elected, and because they influence how the office handles cases, prosecutors are susceptible to political pressures and agendas. The current political climate can influence whether charges are brought against you or not.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer About Potential Charges
If you have been arrested or know you are under investigation for a crime, you should call an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss the possibility of a criminal case. An attorney from Spolin Law P.C. can protect your rights during an investigation and reduce the risk of facing charges. Also, if a prosecutor chooses to pursue charges, then you have an attorney ready to defend you in court.
To learn more about how prosecutors decide to file charges in Los Angeles, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.
When May My Child’s California Juvenile Case Be Transferred to Adult Court?Published on September 25, 2018
Generally speaking, a minor (someone under the age of 18) is tried in a juvenile court. The California law provides for certain situations in which minors can be tried as an adult. California allows children who are least 14 years of age to face adult charges for various offenses. If a prosecutor determines the case is serious enough, they can file it in an adult court. For this to happen, the prosecutor must file a petition for a fitness hearing.
A dedicated juvenile defense lawyer will make your child’s journey through the penal system easier. For help with a California juvenile case in Los Angeles, reach out to an attorney at Spolin Law P.C.. We have the experience necessary to make sure that your son or daughter is treated fairly after accusations against them surface. Schedule your free consultation using the online form, or by calling (310) 424-5816 today.
A Fitness Hearing Decides Juvenile Case Transfers
In order to transfer your juvenile’s case to an adult court, the prosecutor must file a motion to petition for a fitness hearing. At this hearing, the judge will determine whether or not your child is “fit” for the juvenile court system. To do this, they analyze the likelihood that your son or daughter can be rehabilitated. In considering this, the court examines the following five factors:
- The criminal sophistication of your son or daughter
- Whether rehabilitation is possible prior to your child turning 18
- Your son or daughter’s previous delinquent history
- The success or failure of the juvenile court to previously rehabilitate your child
- The circumstances and seriousness of the offense committed.
The prosecutor must give you at least five days notice of a fitness hearing. If based on these factors, the judge decided your child unlikely to be rehabilitated, they will transfer your child’s case to an adult court. Once transferred, your son or daughter will be subject to normal court proceedings.
To learn more about fitness hearings, contact a juvenile defense lawyer at our firm right away.
Only Certain Situations Permit a Transfer to Adult Court
The criteria for moving a California juvenile case to adult court are slightly different than originally trying your child as an adult. A prosecutor may only file a petition for a fitness hearing if your child has been accused of committing a felony and is at least 16-years-old. If your child is at least 14-years-old, their case may be transferred if their offense is included in Section 707(b) of California’s Welfare & Institutions Code.
Potential Penalties a Juvenile May Face in Adult Court
In juvenile court, the worst sentence a minor can receive is incarceration in the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). If tried in adult court, however, your son or daughter can face almost any penalty an adult would. This includes life in prison without the possibility of parole. The only exception is that minors may not face the death penalty.
Appealing the Transfer of a Juvenile Case
If your son or daughter loses their fitness hearing, they may appeal the decision. The petition to appeal must be filed no more than 20 days after arraignment on the charges that prompted the fitness hearing.
Speak to an Attorney About Your Child’s California Juvenile Case Today
Talking to a lawyer knowledgeable in juvenile law is one of the best ways to help your child. From defense to appeal, Spolin Law P.C. will make sure your minor presents the best argument possible so that their case remains in juvenile court. To schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles juvenile defense attorney, reach out online or call (310) 424-5816.
Five Questions to Ask Your Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Before You Appeal Your CasePublished on September 14, 2018
Few things are more upsetting than losing a court case. It might feel like being told you’re wrong, or that your work wasn’t worth it. However, cases are decided by numerous factors. If you disagree with the court’s decision, in most situations you will have the opportunity to appeal your case. Before deciding to appeal, it’s important you understand what you’re doing. If your appeal is granted, you’ll have to prepare your defense all over again. Below are five things to discuss with your appeals lawyer when deciding whether or not to proceed with an appeal.
To contest a court’s decision, you have to know what specifically you are objecting to. That’s where Spolin Law P.C. comes in. Our lawyers know the ins and outs of the process, and will make sure your case is properly prepared. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.
Discuss Your Appeal With An Attorney
When considering whether or not to appeal your case, it’s important to remember that there are differences between an appeal and a regular trial. There will be further work, and further money to invest. There are a few questions you should ask your attorney if you’re considering appealing a case:
Do You Have Experience With Appellate Cases?
Appealing a case requires different work than arguing the original trial. The legal criteria you have to meet to win an appeal are also different. If a lawyer without appellate experience represents you, they may have a difficult time successfully defending you. The skill set required to win an appeal is unique, and you’ll want to make sure your attorney is up to the task.
May I See a Recent Appellate Writing Sample?
Reading an attorney’s writing is a good way to get a sense of their experience. Even if you don’t understand the legal vocabulary, the tone can often suggest whether or not the lawyer is knowledgeable. For additional reference, you can compare it to other examples of appellate writing. Alternatively, you can ask your attorney what points are important in an appellate case. You can then see if they address these points in their sample.
Have You Worked With Appellate Judges In The Past?
The differences between trial and appellate standards will not only affect the writing your attorney has to do. It will also change the factors the judge examines in making their decision. If your lawyer has worked with appellate judges in the past, they’ll better understand what factors the judges look for. Even if your attorney has not argued an appellate case before, they may have clerked for an appellate judge.
What Are Some Possible Arguments You Can Raise During Appeal?
If asking what arguments your attorney may make, you’re not trying to determine the legal merit of the arguments. Instead, you’re simply trying to make sure they’re not rehashing the same arguments from the previous trial.
How Long Do I Have to File My Appeal?
The time you have to file your appeal is variable. California law states that you must file a notice of appeal no more than:
- 60 days after a felony judgement was entered
- 30 days after a misdemeanor judgement was entered
Courts rarely extend the deadline for filing for an appeal. This makes filing in the appropriate time critical to your case. Make sure your lawyer has all the information necessary not to miss this deadline.
Do You Have Questions About How to Appeal Your Case? Call Us Today for Help
The best way to get answers to your questions about appealing a criminal case in California is to speak with an appeals attorney. In Los Angeles, contact Spolin Law P.C. to discuss your situation. An experienced lawyer from our firm will be able to provide the necessary information at every step in the appeals process. Call (310) 424-5816, or use the online form, to schedule your free consultation today.
Forgery Charges Dropped Against Innocent Doctor, Spolin Law P.C. ClientPublished on August 30, 2018
Earlier this week the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office announced that they are closing the case and declining to prosecute an innocent Spolin Law P.C. client who had been arrested and booked on forgery charges.
The client, a medical doctor, had been arrested and accused of possessing a forged DMV registration sticker, which had been affixed to her car. The charge threatened to derail her medical career; she faced the revocation of her medical license if she had been convicted.
Attorney Aaron Spolin handled the doctor’s case. He gathered evidence about the actual individual responsible for the forged DMV sticker and presented this evidence to the LA City Attorney’s Office. After a hearing on Tuesday afternoon of this week in City Hall in downtown LA, the City Attorney’s Office formally announced that they will not be prosecuting the client or pressing any charges.
As a result, the client can return to her work as a doctor providing care to those in need.
For more information or to speak with an attorney at Spolin Law P.C., contact us at (310) 424-5816.
What Is a Fictitious ID and What Are the Penalties for Possessing One?Published on August 23, 2018
There are many reasons people possess false identification materials. If you’re under the age of 18, you need an ID that says you’re of the legal age to purchase any tobacco products. Perhaps the most well-known use of a fake is buying alcohol or gaining entrance to a bar or club. Whatever your reason for using a fictitious ID is, getting caught using one will lead to legal trouble. California law prohibits possessing or displaying a fake ID with the intent of defrauding someone else. For using such identification, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. The specifics of your case will determine the level of your offense.
If you have been caught using a fake ID, call a criminal defense attorney right away. At Spolin Law P.C., we will handle every aspect of your fraud case, whether that means getting the charges dropped, or putting together an aggressive defense. If convicted of an offense related to the use of a fictitious ID, you face several potential penalties. With your rights and freedom on the line, you want to know that someone is keeping you and your case on track.
What Qualifies as a Fictitious ID?
California law defines a fake ID as any driver’s license or identification card issued by a government agency that has been:
- Physically altered
- Forged, or made to show falsified information
- Duplicated or reproduced
- Counterfeited from someone else’s ID
Possessing or displaying an ID that falls under any of these categories, and intending to use that ID to commit forgery, is an offense punishable under California Penal Code.
Intent and Fictitious ID Charges
In addition to possessing, being in control of, or displaying a fake ID, it also illegal in California to use such identification to commit forgery. With regard to fake ID laws, forgery refers to fraud, which is the deception of another person to cause loss or damage to property, financial assets, or legal standing. This statutory language could serve as a possible defense in your case; if you didn’t know that your ID was falsified, you wouldn’t possess the intent to defraud anyone with it.
Penalties for Possession of a Fake ID
Under the California Penal Code, possessing or displaying a fake ID is known as a “wobbler.” This means your offense could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the details of your case. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in jail, and a fine of $1,000. If you’re charged with a felony, however, you may be incarcerated for up to three years, and fined as much as $10,000. Your official charges are determined by numerous factors, such as:
- How much your fraud was worth
- What your crime would have cost others
- Your previous criminal record
Talk to An Experienced Attorney About Your Fictitious ID Charges
If you are facing charges for the possession or use of a fake ID, an experienced attorney will assist you in handling the confusion wobblers can sometimes cause. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, Spolin Law P.C. is prepared to discuss your fictitious ID or fraud case. Whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony-level offense, our dedicated attorneys know what a successful defense requires. To schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact a criminal defense lawyer at our firm by calling (310) 424-5816.
Attorney Aaron Spolin Ranked in Top 1% of California LawyersPublished on August 15, 2018
Spolin Law P.C. is pleased to announce that two independent third-party rating agencies have ranked Aaron Spolin among the top 1% of criminal law attorneys in California.
The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (AIOCLA) has nominated and selected Aaron Spolin for its 2018 list of the “10 Best Attorneys” in California in the field of criminal law. As the organization’s selection letter notes, AICLA is an “impartial third-party attorney rating service and invitation-only legal organization recognizing excellence in practitioners in the field.” Each attorney must (1) be formally nominated by the Institute, clients, and/or a fellow attorney, (2) “have attained the highest degree of professional achievement in his or her field of law,” and (3) “have impeccable client satisfaction ratings.” Spolin Law P.C. was informed of the selection in a letter sent to the office this past February.
The National Trial Lawyers (NTL) also recognized Mr. Spolin for his criminal law advocacy, adding him to its criminal defense list of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” NTL is an educational organization with the mission of “promoting excellence and fostering diversity in the legal profession.” It is also the publisher of The Trial Lawyer magazine. In March of this year the organization informed Mr. Spolin of his selection. This was shortly after he had obtained not-guilty jury verdicts on the top charges of two cases within a two-month time span.
To speak with a Los Angeles criminal appeals attorney at Spolin Law P.C., call or email us at (310) 424-5816 or email@example.com.
Trader Joe’s Shooting Suspect Facing Murder Charges, Despite Not Firing the Bullet that Killed an EmployeePublished on August 7, 2018
Many people think of murder as a fairly straightforward crime. You may think that, regardless of the particulars, you can face a murder charge if your actions result in someone else’s death. Regardless of how you conceive murder as a criminal offense, you would likely be surprised to hear about a man facing murder charges despite someone else firing the shot caused a death. This is the exact situation of Trader Joe’s shooting suspect Gene Evin Atkins. While a police officer discharged the bullet that struck Trader Joe’s employee Melyda Corado, prosecutors are trying to hold Atkins responsible through a legal principle known as the “provocative act doctrine.”
If you’re facing murder charges in the Los Angeles area, you need the strong legal counsel of an experienced murder defense attorney. The law surrounding homicide crimes is extremely complicated. At Spolin Law P.C., we know how to recognize the minute details that govern these offenses, and develop a defense based off that information.
Atkins is Accused of Initiating Chain of Events that Led to Murder in Trader Joe’s Shooting
The basis of the case against Atkins is that his actions led to Corado’s death, even though Atkins himself didn’t pull the trigger. That chain of events begins with Atkins stealing his grandmother’s car. He then kidnapped a 17-year-old female, and fled in the vehicle. Police say he fired shots out the back window at officers who were pursuing him.
Atkins’ flight eventually led him to crash the car outside Trader Joe’s. After the crash, Atkins attempted to flee into the store. As he ran, he continued to shoot at the police, who returned fire. It was during this shootout that a police-fired bullet struck and killed Corado, who was exiting the store as Atkins was entering.
Understanding the Provocative Act Doctrine
Atkins’ murder charge stems from a principle of California law known as the “provocative act doctrine.” The main concept of this doctrine states that if your actions provoke another person to commit a killing, you may be liable for murder.
In Atkins’ case, the prosecution is trying to show that he intentionally set into motion a series of actions, and the outcome of those actions was Corado’s death. The fact that he was not trying to bring about Corado’s death does not matter. Because he kidnapped someone and shot at police as he fled, he allegedly acted with conscious disregard for human life. In firing the shot that killed Corado, the police were simply responding to the circumstances, placing the responsibility for the murder on Atkins.
The California Supreme Court has clarified the scope of the provocative act doctrine, stating that its application must be based on intent. While you don’t have to commit the deadly act yourself, you must have the intent of acting in such a way that endangers others.
Contact a Murder Defense Attorney at Our Firm for Help Today
Whichever section of the law your murder charge is brought under, the most important aspect of your defense is reliable legal representation. Spolin Law P.C. should be your first call for assistance with murder charges in Los Angeles. Our attorneys are dedicated to fighting aggressively for you in court, and they will do so by utilizing a number of possible defenses, their years of experience, and their knowledge of the complicated laws that govern these cases.
Can I Get in Trouble for Making Fraudulent Returns to California Stores?Published on July 31, 2018
Almost anywhere you go in the United States, shopping is part of the culture. With so much commerce occurring on a day-to-day basis, it’s only natural that some people receive items that are not in the condition they expected. In such circumstances, returns are normal and expected. Recently, however, a situation arose highlighting the fact that returns can cause more issues than you might think. A 23-year-old man faces six felony charges for making fraudulent returns at Walmart. According to KSWT, a CNN affiliate, Thomas Frudaker conducted the questionable transactions at over 1,000 Walmarts in the last 18 months.
The laws that govern fraud are complex. A Los Angeles fraud defense attorney can keep an honest misunderstanding from turning into a criminal charge. If you’re facing a fraud investigation in the Los Angeles area, contact Spolin Law P.C. today. Our lawyers understand how fraud cases progress, and will be able to help you throughout every step of the way.
Missing Parts Raise Concern Over Returns
Frudaker attracted suspicion when he attempted to return a computer in Yuma, Arizona. Parts were apparently missing from the machine, prompting authorities to look into Frudaker’s purchasing habits. It was discovered that, over the last year and a half, he had made similar returns at over 1,000 Walmarts across the United States.
For making roughly 1.3 million dollars worth of false returns, Frudaker faces six felony charges. Among his counts are theft, fraudulent schemes, and criminal damage. His bail was set at $40,000.
Return Fraud is Theft in California
California Penal Code defines theft as taking something, intentionally and unlawfully, with the intent to deprive the true owner of its use or enjoyment. If you obtain property that isn’t yours through false pretenses, falsity, or through other means of deceit, you have committed theft by fraud. Some common examples of return fraud are:
- Returning an item you know to be stolen, by yourself or someone else, for money or store credit
- Forging a receipt to show you purchased an item that you did not
- Forging a receipt to show you purchased an item for more than you actually paid
- Returning an item to a different store for more than you originally purchased it for
- Acquiring an item at a store and returning it before purchasing it
Return fraud can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. What specific charge you face depends on the value of what you attempted to return. Penalties for return fraud range from one to three years in prison, as well as fines between one and ten thousand dollars.
Facing Charges for Fraudulent Returns? Call Us Today for Help
Being found guilty of return fraud hinges largely on intent. In order for a theft crime to be proven, it must be shown that you both knew and intended to return something you did not purchase. Whether you intentionally and knowingly did something depends on a wide range of factors. It’s possible that not all these factors have been considered in your case.
A skilled fraud attorney will be able to weigh all these factors while putting together your defense. If you’re facing a fraud investigation in the Los Angeles area, your first call should be to Spolin Law P.C.. Whatever your case is, our lawyers have the experience to provide you with a comprehensive defense.