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California Penal Code 154 PC – Fraudulent Conveyance

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 154 PC – FRAUDULENT CONVEYANCE

Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerCalifornia Penal Code 154 PC defines the criminal offense of “fraudulent conveyance,” which involves giving away or selling property to avoid paying debts. Engaging in fraudulent conveyances and property transfers in an attempt to evade debt payment can result in severe penalties.

In addition, closely related to Penal Code 154, California Penal Code 155 PC addresses fraudulent conveyance by a judgment debtor. These white collar crimes occur when individuals seek to elude payment of significant debts. Perpetrators often transfer valuable assets such as homes, cars, boats, jewelry, or other valuable items to another person in an effort to conceal them from creditors.

For example, if an individual who was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to a victim transferred ownership of their home to a relative but continued to reside there, they would be in violation of PC 154 fraudulent conveyance for transferring their property to avoid fulfilling their restitution obligations.

“154. (a) Every debtor who fraudulently removes his or her property or effects out of this state, or who fraudulently sells, conveys, assigns or conceals his or her property with intent to defraud, hinder or delay his or her creditors of their rights, claims, or demands, is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(b) Where the property so removed, sold, conveyed, assigned, or concealed consists of a stock in trade, or a part thereof, of a value exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250), the offense shall be a felony and punishable as such.”

Source: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=154.

ELEMENTS

In order to secure a conviction under Penal Code 154, the prosecution must establish all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements include:

  • The defendant being a debtor responsible for paying money to a creditor.
  • The defendant is selling their property to someone else.
  • The defendant is giving away their property for free to someone else.
  • The defendant is hiding or concealing their property.
  • The defendant is moving their property out of California.
  • The defendant having the intent to obstruct or delay the ability of creditors to be paid.
See also  CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 115 PC - FILING A FALSE OR FORGED DOCUMENT 

Additionally, Penal Code 155 applies to individuals who fraudulently transfer their property with the intention of avoiding collection on a civil judgment against them.

Similarly, participating in a fraudulent conveyance, as described in California Penal Code 531 PC, can lead to charges even if the person involved does not owe money to a creditor. This means that accepting the transfer of property with the specific intent to prevent creditors from getting paid can result in criminal charges.

It’s important to note that intent plays a crucial role in these cases, and the statute imposes penalties on anyone involved in a transaction with the goal of preventing creditors from receiving payment.

EXAMPLE

John works as a cashier at a local grocery store. Over the past few months, the store manager notices a discrepancy in the cash register. The manager decides to install a hidden camera near the cash register to uncover the source of the missing money. One day, while reviewing the footage, the manager observes John pocketing a small amount of cash from a customer’s payment without recording the transaction.

Based on the evidence from the surveillance footage, the store manager reports the incident to the local police. John is subsequently charged with California Penal Code 154 PC, which prohibits taking money or property that has been entrusted to someone in a financial capacity.

It’s important to note that this is just a fictional example and the circumstances of an actual case may vary. Furthermore, legal advice should be sought from a qualified professional regarding a specific situation.

PENALTIES, PUNISHMENT, AND SENTENCING

Conviction of Penal Code 154, fraudulent conveyance, typically results in a misdemeanor offense with the following potential penalties.

  • Up to one year in a county jail.
  • A fine of up to $1,000.
  • Both jail time and a fine.

However, if the fraudulent conveyance involves the sale of “stock in trade” in a debtor’s business with a value exceeding $250, then it becomes a felony offense. In the case of a felony conviction under PC 154, the penalties can include up to 3 years of confinement in a California state prison, as well as a fine.

DEFENSES

Challenging a charge under California Penal Code 154 (PC) for fraudulent conveyance can be done by presenting a strong legal defense. A successful defense strategy can lead to a reduction or dismissal of the charge, especially if the prosecution fails to meet its burden of proof. It is highly recommended to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney to ensure the most effective defense. Three common defenses that can be used in response to a PC 154 accusation are:

  • Lack of Intent: If it can be demonstrated that there was no fraudulent intent at the time of the property transfer, it can serve as a solid defense against a fraudulent conveyance charge. By showing that there was no intention to avoid payment to a creditor, such as transferring property to assist a relative in need, the lack of fraudulent intent can be a strong defense.
  • Necessity: In a necessity defense, the accused can argue that the fraudulent conveyance was committed out of necessity, providing a valid reason for the action taken. This defense strategy can involve demonstrating that there were no other viable options available, such as during an emergency situation or to address obligations to other creditors.
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If evidence used in the case is obtained through an unlawful search and seizure, it can be deemed inadmissible in court. This violation of constitutional rights can lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges. Law enforcement must typically have a valid search warrant or adhere to recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement for searches to be legally conducted.
See also  CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 115 PC - FILING A FALSE OR FORGED DOCUMENT 

It is crucial to understand the specific circumstances of the case and consult with an attorney to determine the most effective defense strategy tailored to the situation at hand.

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

A conviction for fraudulent conveyance under California Penal Code 154 (PC) can have immigration consequences such as removal or deportation from the United States for non-citizens. Under federal immigration law, fraud and deceit offenses are considered crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT). Individuals convicted of a CIMT may be deemed inadmissible to the U.S., meaning they cannot legally enter the country, or they may be subject to deportation if they are already in the country.

Additionally, if the fraudulent conveyance involves more than $10,000, an individual can be prosecuted for federal wire fraud or mail fraud, which are serious offenses and may carry even more severe immigration consequences.

It is essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you are facing a criminal charge, particularly if you are not a U.S. citizen. A skilled immigration attorney can help you understand the potential immigration consequences and develop the best strategy to minimize those consequences, while also protecting your rights and advising you on the legal options available. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

EXPUNGEMENT

Expungement eligibility and requirements can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and applicable laws. In California, Penal Code 1203.4 PC provides the general framework for expungement of criminal convictions. To determine the eligibility and specific process for expunging a Penal Code 154 PC conviction, it would be advisable to consult with a Los Angeles expungement attorney with expertise in California law.

See also  CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 424 PC – MISAPPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS 

FEDERAL FRAUDULENT CONVEYANCE CHARGES

In certain situations, individuals can be charged with a federal crime of fraudulent conveyance when filing for bankruptcy. This occurs when someone intentionally transfers property to another person prior to filing for bankruptcy with the intention of excluding that property from the list of assets available to pay creditors.

Under federal law, if convicted of fraudulent conveyance related to bankruptcy, the penalties can include up to 5 years of incarceration in a federal prison, as well as a fine.

RELATED CRIMES

  • Fraudulent conveyance by a judgment debtor – California Penal Code 155 PC
  • Participation in a fraudulent conveyance – California Penal Code 531 PC
  • Mail fraud – Federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1341
  • Extortion – California Penal Code 518 PC

SPEAK WITH CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FROM TABIBNIA LAW FIRM

If you are facing allegations of fraudulent conveyance under California Penal Code 154, it is crucial to seek guidance from a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Cases involving this type of fraud can be intricate, and it’s imperative to engage a law firm with a proven track record in handling such offenses. A conviction could result in substantial and enduring consequences.

Cyrus Tabibnia, from Tabibnia Law Firm, is known for his successful representation in white-collar crime cases. By thoroughly examining the particulars of your case, he can formulate an effective strategy. Offering his services to clients across Southern California, you can schedule an initial consultation by calling 866-713-2159.

Sources:

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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