Los Angeles Theft Attorney
Whether you are young and have been accused of shoplifting or you have grown children and are charged with fraud, you need an experienced lawyer to defend you. No matter your age, background, and current charges, Spolin Law P.C. offers an objective analysis of your situation. Instead of letting your emotions fuel your strategy, your theft attorney will use a level head to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor’s position.
Aaron Spolin has the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to vigorously defend you against any theft charges. To discuss how he can help and to learn more of a criminal defense overview that is relevant to your case, contact Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a free consultation.
California Theft Law
Theft crimes in California are outlined in a number of statutes. However, the general theft statute is California Penal Code (PC) Section 484. This law describes actions that entail theft.
You may be charged with theft if you:
- Unlawfully take, carry, or drive away another person’s property
- Fraudulently appropriate property entrusted to you by the owner
- Defraud another person of money, real or personal property, or labor through false or fraudulent representations or pretense
- Cause another person to falsify your wealth or character, receive credit with a business, and then fraudulently obtain money, property, labor, or services
This statute is important if you are charged with theft. It means that you can be charged with a theft offense even if you did not physically walk off with another person or business’s property. You can be charged with theft based on telling lies or maintaining misrepresentations.
When you face a theft crime investigation or charge, the best thing you can do for yourself is to speak with a theft lawyer. At Spolin Law P.C., we will determine whether we have a chance to have the charges dropped or dismissed. If not, we will focus on having the charges reduced, negotiating a plea deal, or fighting for an acquittal in court.
California Theft Crimes
Our legal team at Spolin Law P.C. is ready to take on any type of theft case, including:
Petty Theft (Shoplifting)
PC Section 488 defines petty theft as all other thefts that are not grand theft. Any unlawful appropriation of money, property, or labor worth less than $950 will be charged as petty theft. This encompasses the crime most commonly referred to as shoplifting (PC Section 459.5), which occurs when someone takes items that are for sale from a store without paying.
If you are accused of petty theft, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in the county jail and fines reaching $1,000. However, for theft of property or services worth less than $50, your attorney may argue for prosecutors to reduce the charge to an infraction, which enables you to avoid incarceration.
Second or subsequent charges of petty theft are more serious. If you have theft convictions on your record already, then you may face a felony offense for a relatively small amount of stolen property, making it even more important that you contact a theft attorney.
Grand theft is defined in PC Section 487(a) as stealing or appropriating another person’s money, property, or services worth $950 or more. Under Section 487(1)(A), you can be charged with grand theft if you unlawfully obtain certain produce (including olives and avocados), farm animals (domestic fowls), or aqua-cultural products (including shellfish and crustaceans), worth $250 or more. Section 487(d)(1) states you may face grand theft if you steal a vehicle or firearm.
This offense is a wobbler. It may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony based on the prosecutor’s discretion. If you are charged with a misdemeanor for grand theft, you may be sentenced to up to one year in a county jail and fined up to $1,000. A felony could result in three years in prison and maximum fines reaching $10,000. However, your penalty may be greater depending on the value of the stolen property or labor.
If you are facing a felony charge for grand theft, do not wait to call a theft lawyer. Your best chance of a not guilty verdict is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Grand Theft Auto
If you are accused of stealing any type of motor vehicle, then prosecutors may charge you with a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor may result in a maximum of one year in county jail and fines reaching $1,000. A felony results in far worse consequences, including up to three years in prison, and fines reaching $10,000.
However, under California Vehicle Code Section 10851, if you steal an ambulance, marked fire department vehicle, or a disabled veteran’s modified vehicle, then you may be charged with a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and $10,000 in fines. This section also covers “joyriding,” during which you may take someone else’s vehicle without permission and without the intent to permanently steal it. If you are being accused of stealing a car even though you had no intention of keeping it for yourself or in some other way depriving the owner of it, call an attorney right away. You should not face a felony for grand theft when joyriding is typically charged as a misdemeanor.
Burglary entails entering a structure or certain vehicles without permission, or remaining in a structure without consent, with the intent to commit any theft or other felony. Per PC Section 459, relevant structures include homes, apartments, stores, warehouses, tents, vessels, railroad cars, cargo containers, campers, aircraft, and more.
Based on PC Section 460, any burglary of an inhabited dwelling is first-degree burglary. This is punishable with up to six years in prison. All other commissions of this offense are second-degree burglary, which may be penalized with up to one year in jail.
Whether or not the structure you allegedly burgled was an inhabited dwelling or not makes a significant difference to your case. If you are being charged with first-degree burglary and you believe this is wrong, do not hesitate to call a theft lawyer. At Spolin Law P.C., we will fight for your charges to be reduced before we must fight them in court or negotiate a plea bargain.
Related to the unlawful taking of another person’s property is vandalism, the offense of damaging or defacing someone else’s property. Under PC Section 594, vandalism is defined as damaging another person’s real or personal property with malicious intent with graffiti or other inscribed material.
Like many theft offenses, the charge you face for vandalism depends on the value of the property you allegedly damaged. If you caused damage valued at less than $400, you face a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines reaching $1,000. For damage worth more than $400, you face a wobbler. If prosecutors charge you with a felony, you may be incarcerated for up to three years and fined up to $10,000.
Other California Theft Crimes
Our legal team at Spolin Law P.C. is also here to defend you if you have been charged with another theft crime, such as:
- Receiving stolen property (PC Section 496)
- Theft by false pretenses (PC Section 532)
- Possession of burglary tools (PC Section 466)
Whatever theft offense you face, we are here to help. Contact one of our theft lawyers right away.
Prop 47 reduced many non-violent, non-serious felony crimes to misdemeanors. This affected how you can be charged and punished for:
- Shoplifting property worth less than $950
- Grand theft of property worth less than $950
- Receiving stolen property valued at less than $950
- Forgery worth less than $950
- Fraudulent checks/drafts/orders that do not seek more than $950
- Bad checks that seek less than $950
In the past, you may have been charged with a felony for these offenses. Now, you face a misdemeanor or less severe punishment. However, that is only if the offense was not violent, you do not have a violent conviction on your record, and you are not a registered sex offender.
Consequences of a Theft Conviction
If you are convicted of a theft offense, then you must deal with a permanent criminal record, incarceration, probation, fines, restitution, and more. Having a permanent criminal record is no joke, even if it contains a misdemeanor for shoplifting and not a felony for first-degree burglary.
A conviction record can make it challenging to:
- Go to school
- Obtain financial aid
- Obtain certain professional licenses
- Get and maintain a job
- Rent an apartment
- Obtain housing assistance
- Be approved for an auto or personal loan
- Maintain your immigration status or obtain permanent residency or citizenship
- Maintain or gain more child custody or visitation
Also, if you are convicted of a felony, you lose the right to possess or own a firearm for the rest of your life. For help in avoiding these collateral consequences of a theft offense, call a theft attorney at Spolin Law P.C. right away.
Defending Against Theft Charges
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony theft offense in California, your lawyer may defend you through one or more strategies, such as by claiming:
- Mistake of ownership – You reasonably believed you had a right to the money or property you took. Whether or not your belief in your ownership right was reasonable is often a significant issue in court. The more evidence you have that your belief was reasonable, the better.
- Accident – You did not intentionally take another person’s property. You may have accidentally carried away an item from a store or forgotten you had someone else’s property in your vehicle.
- Mistake of identity – You have been mistaken for the person who actually committed the crime. Your attorney will strive to prove you did not commit the offense, including providing your alibi.
- False accusations – The person accusing you of theft is lying. Your attorney may strive to show the judge or jury that the accuser has ulterior motives.
- Necessity – You took the money or property to prevent more serious harm from occurring. For instance, perhaps you stole a fire extinguisher from your neighbor because something caught fire in your kitchen.
- Entrapment – A law enforcement agent coerced you into committing the crime, overcoming your own judgment and will. Entrapment is very difficult to prove because you must show the officer did more than present you with the opportunity to commit the crime.
Let a Theft Attorney Help You
If you have been accused of any type of theft crime in California, the best thing to do for yourself is to contact an experienced and aggressive lawyer at Spolin Law P.C.. If you try and handle your defense yourself, you will be at a disadvantage. A prosecutor knows what they are doing in court and how to manipulate you into an unfair plea bargain. You are much more likely to achieve a not guilty verdict or to suffer the minimal consequences upon conviction with a theft lawyer on your side.