A theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and may be classified under several separate charge types. Consequences for a theft offense can include: State Prison, County Jail, Community Labor, Community Service, Fines, Immigration consequences, and other consequences
There are two main categories of theft in California:
PETTY THEFT (Penal Code 484/ Penal Code 488)
Petty theft is charged when the value of the items stolen are less than $950. This includes most shoplifting cases. First time petty theft offenses are charged as misdemeanors, however if you have previously been convicted three or more times of petty theft, grand theft, auto theft under Vehicle Code 10851, burglary, carjacking, robbery or a felony violation of section 496 and having served a term in any penal institution or having been imprisoned as a condition of probation for that offense, a subsequent petty theft may be charged under Penal Code 666 (Petty Theft With a Priors), and punishment include up to one year in county jail, or in state prison.
Penalty for Petty Theft: If convicted of a petty theft, the penalty can vary. The maximum possible penalty for conviction of Petty Theft is 6 months in county jail, $1,000 fine, or both. Note that that is the maximum penalty, and even if the conviction can not be reduced or dismissed, it is unlikely that a prosecutor would be looking for the maximum penalty.
GRAND THEFT (Penal Code 487)
In most cases, grand theft occurs when the property allegedly stolen is over $950 in value. Grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING; THEFT DIVERSION
Often, we are able to work out a deal with the Court called “Diversion” in order to get your charges reduced or dismissed. For more information on how Theft Diversion works, please contact our office.
In many theft cases, we can contact the victim and offer what is known as a “civil compromise.” This means that the victim will accept repayment or return of any stolen property and in return they will recommend to the prosecutor that the charges be dropped. It is important begin working on civil compromise options as early as possible, and to verify that the Court will except the civil compromise to dismiss charges before committing to such an agreement. If you think a civil compromise may be a possibility in your case, it is important to retain our office as soon as possible so we may begin working on this option before it is too late.
RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY (Penal Code 496)
To prove that a defendant received stolen property the prosecution must prove that you or a loved one:
1) Bought, sold, received, aided in selling, hid or aided in hiding stolen property, 2) Knew the properly had been stolen, AND 3) Knew that property was in their possession
Often, people end up with gifts, or buy things from others not knowing they ended up with stolen property. If this has happened to you, we can help you get through it. Contact the
Law Office of Philip D. Hache at (818) 336-1386
BURGLARY (Penal Code 459)
Burglary, often referred to as “breaking and entering” is generally defined as the entering of a room, structure or locked vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or a petty theft once inside. With the exception of auto burglary, you can be charged with burglary even if there was no forced entry into the room or structure.
BURGLARY is separated into two categories:
1. Residential Burglary (also referred to as 1st Degree Burglary).
Residential Burglary is the burglary of a house, apartment, or other room where people are living, including a hotel room. Residential is always a felony in California.
2. Commercial Burglary (also referred to as 2nd Degree Burglary)
Commercial burglary can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, often referred to as a “wobbler.” Whether this is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the alleged circumstances of your case, as well as your criminal history or lack thereof.
Depending on each specific case, the penalties for a residential or commercial burglary can vary drastically, and it is possible to get charges reduced or dismissed.
PENALTIES FOR RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY
a. The penalty for a residential burglary can include up to one year of county jail with probation, or two, four, or six years of state prison, and
b. A maximum fine of $10,000
Further, a conviction of Residential burglary counts as a strike under California’s three strike rule.
PENALTIES FOR COMMERCIAL BURGLARY
a. If convicted of Commercial Burglary as a misdemeanor, penalties can include up to one year in county jail, a fine up to $1,000, and probation.
b. If convicted of Commercial Burglary as a felony, penalties can include up to one year in county jail and probation, or sixteen months, two or three years in state prison, as well as a fine up to $10,000.
Penalty enhancements are factors that can come into play to add additionalal consequences, including additional custody time. For example, if it is alleged that great bodily injury was caused in the act, or the victim was particularly vulnerable due to age or health, to name a few, the custody time can increase significantly.
DEFENSES TO BURGLARY
There are many defenses that can come into play in defending a Burglary charge. One key defense is Lack of Intent. An element necessary for conviction of Burglary requires an intent to commit a felony or theft at the time of entry of the structure.
Another defense is mistake of fact, which also crosses over into lack of intent. For example, if you thought you had permission to take the item in question, then an intent to commit a theft is not there.
A third defense is that you are factual innocent. For example, you did not commit any crime but are arrested based on mistaken identity or fraudulent or inaccurate accusation by an alleged victim who is lying.
My goal when defending clients on a burglary charge is to mitigate consequences as much as possible. I will defend your case aggressively to try to get the charges reduced to a lesser offense, or dismissed altogether.
ROBBERY (Penal Code 211)
Robbery in California is defined as taking of another’s property from his or her person or immediate presence, accomplished by force or fear.
It is also possible to get charged with robbery if after taking an item, physical harm or threat of physical harm is used to escape or try to escape with the property.
Robbery is always a felony in California. First degree robbery can be punished by between three , four , or six years in state prison. Second degree robbery can be punished by two, three or five years in state prison. Both first and second degree robbery can include up to $10,000 fine, and formal probation.
Like many other felonies, there are potential sentence enhancements depending on factors involving your particular robbery case or criminal history that can add years to the total state prison term.
Further, a conviction of Robbery counts as a strike under California’s three strike rule.
You may be charged with both burglary and robbery if you enter a structure belonging to someone else and use force or fear to obtain property from the premises with the intent to do so at the time of entry.
DEFENSES TO ROBBERY
Defenses to Robbery include, not using force or fear to take the property, mistaken identity, being falsely accused, and you honestly believed that you had a right to the property in question.
Call me at (818) 336-1384 for a free consultation to see how I can help you.
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