Criminal Defense Attorneys Protecting the Legal Rights of Individuals Charged with a Theft Crime Offense
Although theft crimes are quite common, not many people know that theft offenses are considered crimes of moral turpitude.
So, once arrested, charged, and prosecuted with for any type of theft crime, it would be extremely difficult to find gainful employment because many employers are reluctant to hire an employee who they perceive to be dishonest.
Therefore, if you are under a criminal investigation or already arrested for a theft case anywhere in Los Angeles County, you need to immediately consult with a Los Angeles theft crime defense lawyer.
Moreover, with a theft crime conviction on your record, it would be almost impossible to obtain a professional job that requires a state board license such as a pharmacy technician, a real estate broker, a Certified Public Accountant, a nurse, etc.
Even though a theft crime conviction may be expunged from your records, the fact that you were convicted might still come up, when running a complete background check.
Also, a theft case conviction on your record might have dire consequences on your immigration status, derailing for instance, ability to obtain and/or renew your green card and you may be ordered to pay victim restitution. We can help you decide whether to accept a plea bargain in your case.
We understand the most common defenses in California criminal cases. Therefore, it is important to stop a theft case conviction on its tracks by getting legal advice from a theft attorney in Los Angeles.
At Eisner Gorin LLP, our Los Angeles theft attorneys understand that everyone makes mistakes. By the virtue of our extensive knowledge of the criminal legal system, we are able either to dismiss theft charges and/or plead down to a lesser charge whatever your case might be.
If arrested, there is a good chance you will have to appear for an arraignment, which is the first court appearance.
One way to resolve a criminal case in California State courts is through a diversion program, known as deferred entry of judgment, which allows get you charges dismissed with no conviction. See our blog: Alternative Sentencing in California.
The most common theft crime cases in Los Angeles include the following:
Petty Theft - California Penal Code 484
Petty theft is any theft crime of less than a $950 value. The prosecution needs to be able to prove each and every one of the elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted at trial.
If the prosecution cannot prove even just one element of the theft criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury is required by law to find a not guilty verdict.
It is for this reason that an understanding of all of the theft offense is critical to preparing a defense for your case by a Los Angeles theft crime lawyer.
Accordingly, for the crime of petty theft, the elements are:
- (1) You committed a theft, meaning you unlawfully took someone else's property; AND
- (2) The value of what was stolen was less than $950
A theft can be of money, property, labor. If the value of what was stolen is greater than $950, then the offense is grand theft.
Under Proposition 47, passed in November of 2014, if you took property from a store during normal business hours and the value of what was taken is less than $950, then the charged offense would be shoplifting instead of petty theft. The merchant's privilege gives store owners the right to detain shoplifting suspects in California. Speak to your criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles for more information
Petty theft is typically a misdemeanor. A conviction of this theft crime can result in up to six months in County jail or $1,000 fine or both.
However, if the amount stolen was less than $50, then petty theft can be charged as an infraction, in which case the maximum penalty is a fine up to $250.
In what's termed petty theft with a prior, a petty theft can also be treated as a felony if you have prior convictions of certain violent, sexual or theft offenses.
Petty Theft with Prior Conviction
If you have been charged with petty theft and have a prior theft conviction you could face a felony theft crime charge which carries with it a state prison sentence.
Under California's Three Strikes Law you could be facing a sentence of 25 years to life if you have previously been convicted of two serious or violent crime felonies because a conviction for petty theft would be considered your third felony offense thereby opening you up to the maximum sentence under the California three strikes law. Consult with your lawyer to learn more about your specific theft case.
Grand Theft - California Penal Code 487
Grand theft is any theft of more than a $950 value. Accordingly, for the crime of grand theft, the elements are:
- (1) You committed a theft; AND
- (2) The value of what was stolen was more than $950
A theft can be of money, property, labor. If the value of what was stolen is less than $950, then the offense is petty theft.
Under Proposition 47, passed in November of 2014, if you took property from a store during normal business hours and the value of what was taken is less than $950, then the charged offense would be shoplifting instead of petty theft. Speak to a Los Angeles theft charges attorney for more information.
There are different types of grand theft:
- Grand theft by embezzlement,
- grand theft by trick,
- grand theft by false pretenses,
- grand theft firearm, and
- grand theft auto
A grand theft case can occur when someone steals a laptop from somebody's office while the owner is out to lunch. It can also occur when an employer has granted an employee permission to use a company credit card for company purchases, but the employee uses the credit card for personal purchases without permission.
Your lawyer can provide more details about your specific theft case.
Grand theft is a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony if the property has a high value.
Misdemeanor grand theft carries 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 by16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison.
Available challenges that can be used by theft lawyers in Los Angeles always depend on the facts of the theft crime case.
Some possible arguments that can be used by a defense attorney are that you were not the one who took the item, that the item was not valued at over $950, that the item actually belonged to you, that the item was taken by mistake or due to some type of error, of if it cannot be proven that you intended to take the property.
If you obtain goods or services at a business without paying, you could be charged with Defrauding an Innkeeper under California Penal Code 537.
Another type of theft crime is California Vehicle Code 10801, which makes it a crime to knowingly own or operate a chop shop, and the statute carries stiff penalties for anyone who is convicted.
Every theft case has its own set of unique circumstances. This is why you need to consult with an experienced Los Angeles theft criminal attorney.
Robbery - California Penal Code 211
Robbery is a theft crime offense which requires a confrontation between at least two parties where either the use of force or the threat of force was used to coerce another to commit the crime. The punishment can carry with it a substantial time in a state prison.
The legal penalties for a robbery case in Los Angeles can increase based on several circumstances, such as if great bodily injury was inflicted or if some type of weapon was used during the commission of the theft crime.
Unlike in petty theft or grand theft cases, in a robbery case the value of the property that was taken does not matter and the defendant does not even have to physically possess the stolen property to be charged with robbery. Penal Code 212 PC defines the term "fear" as it's used in the crime of robbery.
This is why you need to consult with a Los Angeles theft lawyer once you learn you may be the target of a robbery criminal investigation.
A person commits robbery in Los Angeles, California if he uses violence, force or threats to take property from someone's immediate possession.
For the crime of robbery, the elements of the offense are:
- (1) Someone else had possession of a property with at least a slight value; AND
- (2) You took that property from the other person from their immediate presence; AND
- (3) The taking of the property was without the person's consent; AND
- (4) You used force or fear to take the property; AND (5) You had the specific intent to permanently deprive them of their property
Typical robbery case in Los Angeles County include: Holding a gun to someone and demanding that the person give you their money; Grabbing a backpack or purse while the person is carrying it; punching somebody and taking their wallet and phone.
In some cases, you could be charged as being an accomplice, even if you did not physically commit the crime.
See our blog: What is Aiding and Abetting in California?
A robbery case is a felony offense and considered a “strike” for purposes of California's Three Strikes law.
The penalty for a robbery theft crime depends on the circumstances of the robbery.
First degree robbery, which includes robberies in a residence, at an ATM machine on someone who just used the machine, or in a vehicle, have a maximum penalty of nine years in State prison.
Other robberies have a maximum penalty of five years in State prison. Speak to your attorney for more information about your theft crime case.
California Proposition 57 makes certain non-violent felons eligible for parole after completing the base-term of their sentence.
See related information: Accessory After the Fact Laws in California.
Available challenges by a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer always depend on the facts of the theft case.
Some possible arguments that can be used by an attorney are that the other person consent to the taking of the property, that you did not use force or fear to accomplish the taking, or that you did not intend to permanently deprive the person of the property.
Burglary - California Penal Code 459 and 460
The difference between first degree burglary and second degree burglary in Los Angeles County is whether the offense occurred in a residence (first degree) or in a non-residence (second degree).
Accordingly, first degree burglary is commonly referred to as residential burglary and second degree burglary is commonly referred to as commercial burglary. Speak to a Los Angeles theft crime defense lawyer about your specific case.
For the theft crime of burglary, the elements of the offense are:
- (1) You entered a residence (first degree) or other building (second degree); AND
- (2) Your purpose was to commit a felony or a theft
A common example of first degree burglary in Los Angeles occurs when a person enters into someone's home for the purpose of stealing from the home, doing damage to the home, or attacking someone in the home.
A common example of second degree burglary occurs when a person enters into a store after hours with the intent to steal from the store. Your lawyer can provide more information.
See related blog: California Possession of Burglary Tools Laws.
The legal penalty for burglary depends on whether you are convicted of first degree or second degree burglary.
First degree burglary is always a felony and is also considered a strike for purposes of the Three Strikes Law in California. Since it is considered a strike, the sentences for future convictions of any offenses also considered strikes will be much longer.
Assuming, however, that this is your first strike, for a conviction of first degree burglary you can be sentenced up to six years in State prison and be ordered to pay substantial fines.
See related information: Reduce a Felony Conviction to Misdemeanor.
If you have a prior theft conviction, call a Los Angeles criminal defense expert at our law firm to review the specific details of you theft case.
Second degree burglary is considered a wobbler, which means that the prosecution can choose to file it as a misdemeanor or a felony theft crime. Prosecutors often look to the specific facts of the theft case in determining whether a misdemeanor or felony is more appropriate.
If you are convicted of second degree burglary as a misdemeanor theft crime, you can be sentenced up to a year in a Los Angeles county jail and ordered to pay substantial fines.
If you are convicted of second degree burglary as a felony, then, assuming no prior convictions that would affect your sentence, you can be sentenced up to three years in LA county jail. Speak to your defense lawyer for more information about your specific theft case.
There are several possible challenges that may be used by an experienced theft attorney in Los Angeles to burglary charges.
The lawyer can argue that you did not have any intent to commit the theft crime upon entering the residence or building. The attorney can argue that you did not form the intent to commit a theft offense until after you entered the residence or building.
A theft lawyer can argue that the structure you entered did not qualify as a residence for purposes of first degree burglary. A professional theft attorney could also argue that you believed the property you were acquiring belonged to you.
Each of these defenses, however, depends on the specific facts of your case.
A burglary conviction can severely impact your future opportunities. If you are under a criminal investigation for any type of theft related crime, call an experienced Los Angeles theft crime defense lawyer at our law firm as soon as possible. Penal Code 464 PC defines the felony crime of burglary of a safe or vault. Penal Code 460 PC defines the felony crime of first-degree residential burglary.
Auto Burglary - California Penal Code 459
Auto burglary in Los Angeles County occurs when someone enters a locked automobile or its trunk with the intent to steal the car (also known as grand theft auto) or steal property contained in the car.
In order to be convicted of the theft crime of auto burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you illegally entered a vehicle by unlocking the doors or trunk or by breaking a window. Vehicle Code 10852 VC makes it a crime to tamper with a motor vehicle. Auto theft with a prior is defined under Penal Code 666.5 PC.
Possible challenges by a skilled Los Angeles theft lawyer to auto burglary charges stem from establishing the intent of the defendant during the commission of the crime.
Carjacking - California Penal Code 215
Carjacking is a felony theft crime in Los Angeles. The elements of car jacking are:
- (1) A person was in possession of a car AND
- (2) You took the car from either the driver or passenger of the vehicle while they were present AND
- (3) You took the vehicle from the owner against their will with either force or fear AND
- (4) You took the vehicle with the intention to either temporarily or permanently deprive the owner or passenger
There are several possible challenges to carjacking that can be used by a theft crime defense expert in Los Angeles.
One legal defense is that you did not use either force or fear to take the vehicle. In order to be convicted of carjacking, the prosecution must prove that you attempted to take the vehicle through either force or fear/intimidation.
Other possible legal defenses that may be used by your criminal defense lawyer include either consent, meaning you were first given consent by the victim to take the vehicle or another defense could be as simple as a possible case of mistaken identity where you were not the actual person who committed the crime, but was either there when the crime occurred and/or resemble the suspect.
Identity Theft - California Penal Code 530.5
For the crime of identity theft in Los Angeles, the elements are:
- (1) You intentionally acquired the personal identify information of someone else; AND
- (2) You unlawfully used that information (including but not limited to obtaining credit or goods or services or property or medical information without the consent of that person); AND
- (3) The other person did not consent to your use of their information
You can be charged with an identity theft case it you steal someone's personal information and then use their information to apply for a credit card without their consent.
Or you can be charged with identity theft if you steal someone's personal information and use their information to create a false government issued ID card without their consent.
Identity theft is a “wobbler," meaning it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor case. If it is charged as a felony, the maximum penalty is three years incarceration and fines. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is one year incarceration in County jail and fines.
Available challenges by a Los Angeles identity theft lawyer always depend on the facts of the case.
One of the best methods of attacking a charge of identity theft by a criminal defense attorney is to attack each of the elements of the offense because in order to be found guilty of an identity theft offense, the prosecution must prove all of the elements of the theft crime beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning if one of the elements cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt then the verdict by law must be not guilty.
Our defense lawyers will look for facts that demonstrate you did not use the other person's identity for an unlawful purpose. Our identity theft lawyers will also look for facts that the other person had consented to your use of his or her identity.
Receiving Stolen Property - California Penal Code 496
A receiving stolen property case in Los Angeles County occurs when someone purchases or receives property that they knew (or reasonably should have known) was stolen.
For the theft crime of receiving stolen property, the following elements must be proven:
- (1) The property was stolen; AND
- (2) You knew of the stolen nature of the property; AND
- (3) You possessed, concealed, sold, or withheld the property
An example of a receiving stolen property theft crime case would be if a friend told you that he or she had just stolen an iPhone, offered to sell it to you for $50, and you agreed and purchased it.
Even though you did not commit the theft crime, your purchase of property that you knew was stolen is an offense.
Receiving stolen property in Los Angeles is called a “wobbler,” meaning that the prosecutor's have discretion to file it either as a misdemeanor or felony theft crime.
If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is one year in Los Angeles County jail and fines. If it is charged as a felony, the maximum penalty is up to three years incarceration.
If the value of the stolen property is less than $950, however, it is always a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in County jail.
Appropriation of lost property is a theft offense described under California Penal Code 485. This statute makes it a crime for anyone who finds lost property and doesn't make a reasonable attempt to locate the owner.
If you are accused of receiving stolen property, consult with our Los Angeles theft attorneys at our law firm to review all the details and explore your legal defenses.
Contact a Los Angeles Theft Crime Defense Lawyer
Our group of experienced Los Angeles theft crime attorneys at Eisner Gorin LLP knows that theft cases are often based on weak evidence, which can be easily challenged.
Consequently, there are a number of legal defenses, which might be available to you, depending on the facts of your case, if you are charged with a theft crime.
Effective legal defenses include lack of intent to permanently keep property or defendant had consent to take the property.
Moreover, California Proposition 47 turned a number of felony theft crimes into misdemeanors.
Therefore, for instance, if you are charged with a felony grand theft or a felony burglary; then, you may be eligible to have your felony sentence reduced.
It's critical to speak with an experienced Los Angeles theft lawyer at our top-ranked criminal defense law firm so we can thoroughly review all the specific details of your theft crime case in order to build a strong defense strategy.
Our lawyers have successfully defended many clients against any type of theft related crime.
Our expert defense attorneys were able to obtain excellent results when it initially appeared their theft case was indefensible.
Our law firm knows how to develop an effective defense against theft crimes and have the experience to negotiate the best possible outcome on theft cases when guilt in not in doubt. Call our law firm, 24/7, to discuss the specific details of your case.