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Los Angeles Theft Crimes Defense Attorney

Los Angeles Theft Crimes Lawyer

In Los Angeles, theft crimes are criminal acts of taking another person’s property or money without permission. In California, theft crimes can be either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances. There are many different crimes that fit this definition, such as shoplifting, robbery, burglary, larceny, forgery, embezzlement, auto theft, and receiving stolen property. While petty theft, burglary, and robbery are common forms of theft crime, there is also a growing trend in the use of another person’s identity for fraud purposes—for example credit card thefts. Los Angeles theft crimes attorney Cyrus S. Tabibnia has extensive experience fighting theft cases. He has handled hundreds of Southern California theft crimes cases.

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    Different Types of Theft Charges and How A Lawyer Can Help

    Theft, also known as larceny, is a crime in which an individual unlawfully takes or uses another person’s property. If you have been arrested for theft, you could be charged with one of two types: petty theft or grand theft. Under the broad categories of theft and burglary, there are many different types of theft crimes including embezzlement, shoplifting, fraud, and robbery. Although all of these crimes have the same basic elements, they can be distinguished by how you are charged and what kind of punishment may follow. Here’s a brief guide to the different kinds of theft charges and how a Los Angeles theft crimes lawyer can help you.

    Misdemeanor Theft vs. Felony Theft

    The distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony theft charge is whether the property allegedly stolen was worth more or less than a certain amount. If the value of an item that is alleged to have been stolen is less than $1000, then the crime should be charged as a misdemeanor theft. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is important because the sentence for each offense varies.
    If you are convicted of misdemeanor theft, you could face up to 6 months in jail. However, if you are convicted of felony theft where the value of what was misappropriated or taken is $1000 or more, but less than $5000, you could be imprisoned for up to 5 years, or fined up to $3000, or both. If the value of property obtained is less than $25,000 but more than $5,000, a sentence range of zero to ten years and/or a fine up to 10 thousand dollars may be imposed.
    If the value of your property is $25,000 or more, you could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine as high as $50,000. In order to convict someone of theft, a prosecutor must be able to prove the value of what was stolen. If he can prove that the item is worth less than $1,000, then the theft charge should be reduced to misdemeanor theft.

    Petty Theft Vs. Grand Theft

    The value of the stolen property is what distinguishes petty theft from grand theft. It is possible to be charged with petty theft for stealing a small amount of money or property—such as $950 worth.
    Petty theft is a misdemeanor offense and can result in six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. Grand theft is when you steal something worth more than $950. In California, grand theft is what’s called a “wobbler.” This means prosecutors can choose whether to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances surrounding your crime. If you are found guilty of a felony, you could be sentenced to three years in state prison and fined up to $1,000.

    Petty theft

    PC 484(a) states that petty theft is when a person steals or fraudulently takes (with the intent to deprive permanently), another’s property, labor or money with value of less than $950.

    PC 484(a) states that petty theft is when a person steals or fraudulently takes (with the intent to deprive permanently), another’s property, labor or money with value of less than $950. Unlike in years past, California’s petty theft statute (PC 459.5) closely resembled shoplifting—except that you cannot be charged with both if the charges arise out of a single act.” Petty thefts are defined as crimes that take place in businesses or homes during normal business hours and involve items worth less than $950. Petty theft can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, but the penalties are limited unless aggravating circumstances exist.

    • Up to 6 months in county jail
    • Summary (unsupervised) probation
    • Up $1,000 fine
    • Community service or labor
    • Court ordered theft counseling programs
    • Victim restitution

    Grand Theft

    The California Penal Code 487(a) defines grand theft as the unlawful taking or stealing of another’s property, labor, or money that is valued at over $950. Grand theft, a more serious offense than shoplifting or petty theft and considered a “wobbler” in some states, carries severe potential sentencing terms that are further enhanced if the offense is prosecuted as a felony—which will happen if you possess a prior criminal record. A theft crime will be treated differently depending on the circumstances of your case, such as if you have been convicted of a similar crime before or whether there was property damage. If you are convicted of grand theft, possible penalties include:

    • Up to 12 months in county jail – (Misdemeanor)
    • Up to 3 years in California state prison – (Felony)
    • Summary (unsupervised) or formal (supervised) probation
    • Fines and victim restitution
    • Community service or labor
    • Court ordered theft counseling programs

    Robbery

    Unlike regular theft, which involves the taking of property without its owner’s consent, robbery occurs when a person uses violence or intimidation to get what they want. Because it is often accompanied by threats, robbery can have serious legal repercussions for those who commit such acts.

    Armed Robbery

    In an armed robbery, a criminal commits theft while holding or threatening to use a gun, knife or other weapon. Because of the use or threat of a weapon, an armed robbery is punished more severely than simple robbery. In California, offenders can be sentenced to three to nine years in state prison.

    Embezzlement

    Embezzlement, as defined by PC 503, is the fraudulent appropriation of property by an employee who has been entrusted with that property. Breach of trust is a serious issue, and the immediate consequences can be severe: You will likely lose your job if you are convicted. Like all theft and property crimes, the potential outcomes of embezzlement are heavily influenced by your prior criminal history: if you have been convicted of a similar offense before or stole more money than others who were charged with this crime, it will likely be much harder to avoid jail time. In addition, the crime of embezzlement is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. You can be arrested, charged, and prosecuted with felony embezzlement if the amount that was stolen or misappropriated is high (thousands of dollars) and especially if you have a criminal record for theft. If you are convicted of embezzlement, the penalties can include:

    • Up to 6 months in county jail – (Misdemeanor with theft amount under $950)
    • Up to 1 year in county jail – (Misdemeanor with theft amount over $950)
    • Up to 3 years in California state prison – (Felony)
    • Summary (unsupervised) or formal (supervised) probation
    • Fines and victim restitution
    • Community service or labor
    • Court ordered theft counseling programs

    Fraud

    Fraud is stealing that involves deceiving the victim into believing something untrue in order to get money or property. Fraud is commonly referred to as a “white collar” crime and usually committed by people with high social status, such as corporate executives and government officials; it doesn’t involve physical violence.

    Access Device Fraud

    Access device fraud involves illegally obtaining a person’s account information, credit card number or social security number and then using it to permanently deprive them of money. The law states that no person shall illegally transfer an access device (such as a credit card or identity document) to another person, possess such a device belonging to another individual without authorization and with the intent of defrauding someone else, or use equipment for making fake ID cards. An access device can be used to obtain anything of value, whether immediately or at a later time. This includes a person’s social security number, driver’s license number, birth date, mother’s maiden name, checking account numbers, savings account numbers, personal identification numbers, electronic identification numbers, digital signatures, or other means of account access. Access device fraud is a broad category of crime that covers many different types of theft. The penalties can vary, depending on the amount of money or goods that were stolen. The estimated value of access device fraud is calculated by adding together the total number of illegal transactions. For example, if a credit card is illegally used to make 10 purchases of $100 each, the total fraudulent value would be $1000—a felony. The judge would order the defendant to pay back all the money that he or she had stolen.

    Bank Fraud

    Bank fraud differs from other theft charges, in that it involves depriving a bank of money or the money held in a customer account permanently. Most bank fraud occurs when a defendant presents a forged check for payment at the bank. The bank gives him money on the check, but later determines that he is not the proper payee or has forged it. Because the bank required him to provide his driver’s license and since it was filming the transaction, he couldn’t cash a check without giving up identifying information. Bank fraud is a serious criminal offense, which can result in up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The judge would likely order him to pay back the money, just like most other theft charges.

    Computer Fraud

    Fraudulent use of a computer is a type of theft that involves using a computer or computer system to defraud a victim or obtain money through fraud, including altering, deleting, or inserting programs or data. This is basically hacking. When a defendant steals money from someone by hacking into that person’s computer, he commits the crime of computer fraud. If found guilty of this crime, the defendant could be fined no more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years—or both.

    Forgery

    Forgery is the altering or forging of documents that are used to defraud someone. Forgery is a type of theft, because it involves using forged documents to get money from another person. If a defendant is charged with bank fraud and theft, the prosecutor may also charge him or her with forgery if it can be proven that he forged someone’s name on a check. Forgery is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison.

    Identity Theft

    Identity theft is one of the more common charges that we see prosecuted. Identity theft is a serious crime where someone illegally obtains and uses another person’s personal information, without their permission, in order to gain a financial advantage or other benefits. Judges treat identity theft as a serious crime and impose harsh penalties. The sentence is based on how much money was stolen and if the victim was elderly.

    Burglary – 1st and 2nd Degree

    Burglary is considered a more serious form of theft. It involves committing a theft in someone’s home or business without permission. Burglary of an inhabited dwelling is when someone enters a residence without permission, steals something or commits another crime while inside. A conviction on this charge can result in a sentence of 1 to 12 years imprisonment. Under PC 459, burglary is defined as the unlawful entry into a building or other structure with the intent to commit theft. Burglary is divided into 2 separate categories: 1st and 2nd degree.
    The more serious category of 1st degree, also referred to as “Residential Burglary” involves forcibly entering a residence with the intent to commit a felony. A person can be convicted of first-degree burglary even if no one is home at the time. Therefore, a burglary committed while the home’s inhabitants were away would still count as 1st-degree burglary. While still serious, 2nd degree burglary or “Commercial Burglary” is less severe than first-degree or residential burglary. It encompasses all other forms of burglary not involving unlawful entry into a residence. Breaking into a car to steal the laptop from its seat is an example of 2nd degree burglary.
    Although 2nd degree burglary is considered a lesser offense than some other forms of burglary, it can also be treated as a “wobbler” crime. This means that if you are convicted of this charge, the court would further increase your sentencing exposure. Burglary in the second degree is known as a “wobbler,” which means it may be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor. If you are charged with 1st degree burglary, this option is not available to you because it is considered a “straight felony” and therefore qualifies as one of the crimes that can get your sentence doubled under California’s 3-strike law. The penalties for 1st and 2nd-degree burglary can vary depending on the circumstances of each case, as well as your criminal history.
    The following penalties may apply to you:

    • Up to 12 months in county jail – (Misdemeanor 2nd degree)
    • Up to 3 years in California state prison – (Felony 2nd degree)
    • Up to 6 years in California state prison – (1st degree)
    • Summary (unsupervised) or formal (supervised) probation
    • Fines and victim restitution
    • Community service or labor
    • Court ordered theft counseling programs
    • Strike (1st degree only)

    Shoplifting

    This crime involves stealing goods from a store or other commercial establishment. In California, shoplifting is one of the most common forms of property crime. A person convicted of entering a home without permission faces a mandatory fine between $50 and $1,000 as well as up to six months in jail. In California, Penal Code section 459.5(a) defines shoplifting as an act of entering a retail establishment during normal business hours with the intent to steal merchandise worth less than $950.
    Prior to the passage of Prop. 47, shoplifting with prior intent could be punished as either 2nd degree burglary or commercial burglary—regardless of the value of the stolen items. Shoplifting is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor, but if you have a prior criminal record of theft crimes—in addition to other serious felony convictions and/or are registered sex offender under PC 290—it can be elevated to a felony charge. Misdemeanor shoplifting can carry a variety of penalties, including fines and jail time.

    • Up to 6 months in county jail
    • Summary (unsupervised) probation
    • Up $1,000 fine
    • Community service or labor
    • Court ordered theft counseling programs
    • Victim restitution

    Receiving Stolen Property

    In California, a person can be prosecuted for buying, receiving, or concealing stolen property if the individual knew that it had been taken unlawfully. If you are found guilty of receiving stolen property, the offense may be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony.

    Writing Bad Checks

    In order to be convicted of passing bad checks, it must be proven that the defendant wrote a check from an account he or she knew had insufficient funds and attempted to use it with the intent of defrauding the recipient.

    Car Theft

    Theft and attempted theft of vehicles are considered car theft. This includes all vehicles used for transportation—such as cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and trailers.

    Have You Been Charged With Larceny? A Los Angeles Theft Attorney Can Help.

    You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of petty or grand larceny. Defending yourself against theft charges is nearly impossible without legal representation. Choosing the right Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer is an important decision that can impact your life.
    Cyrus has years of experience defending clients in criminal cases in California. As your lawyer, Cyrus works to challenge the evidence presented against you and develop a strong defense strategy that will get your charges reduced or dismissed. Remember, just because you were charged with a crime does not mean that you are guilty. In order to convict you, the prosecutor must prove that (1) you intended to steal property that did not belong to you; and (2) it was actually your actions—not someone else’s—that led to the theft. A skilled Los Angeles theft lawyer has the knowledge and experience to identify possible defenses in your case. If you’ve been charged with theft, don’t wait to seek legal representation. Call the Tabibnia Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.

    LOS ANGELES PETTY THEFT AND GRAND THEFT LAWS

    PENAL CODES 484 and 488 – PETTY THEFT

    See, California Penal Code 484 and 488. California petty theft constitutes the unlawful taking of property of another person or entity that is valued at nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or less.

    The elements of petty theft are:

    • Intent – you intended to deprive the owner of the property; and
    • Taking – you took something from another person or business; or
    • Fraud – you fraudulently obtained the property through deceit or otherwise.

    Explanation

    Petty theft may occur in a number of circumstances. These include:

    • Theft by intentional taking away of property of another (also called “larceny”) – these constitute the majority of petty theft cases.
    • Theft by trick – for example, switching price tags on an item in a store in order to pay less for it).
    • Theft by embezzlement – taking money or property that that has been entrusted to you.
    • Theft by fraud; lying or deceiving someone in order to convince them to give you their property.
    • Theft by false pretense; lying or deceiving someone in order to convince them to give you their property.

    Examples of Petty Theft

    • Shoplifting sunglasses at a department store, which are worth $250;
    • Asking to “borrow” your neighbor’s $700 bicycle, taking and not returning it, when you initially knew you had no intention of giving it back.
    • Taking a $500 dress from a shipment of clothes you are accepting delivery for on behalf of your boss.

    Legal Defenses to Petty Theft

    There are a number of viable legal defenses to grand theft that could lead to charges being either dismissed or reduced. These include any one or more of the following:

    • No intent to steal – you did not intend to steal the item,
    • Ownership/possession – the item was not stolen; it belonged to you.
    • False accusation – you did not undertake the act.
    • Consent – the person who owned the merchandise/item/product gave you permission to take it.
    • Alibi – it was not you who took the property.
    • Duress/threat – you were threatened into taking the property.
    • Accident/Negligence – you did not act intentionally; you mistakenly took the item(s).
    • Entrapment – law enforcement entrapped you.

    Penalties and Punishment for Grand Theft

    Grand theft is a wobbler. Thus, the District Attorney’s Office retains discretion to charge it as a felony or misdemeanor. When charged as a misdemeanor, grand theft carries a maximum sentence of one (1) year in county jail plus certain, applicable fines. If charged as a felony, grand theft carries a potential sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison, not including fines and possible restitution to any victims. Often, the greater the financial damage caused by the act, the more extensive the punishment sought by the prosecutors. Cal. Pen. Code §489.
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    Immigration Consequences of Grand Theft

    If you are not a United States citizen and are charged with a crime, you are strongly advised to seek legal advice from an attorney on your immigration status. In this case, a PC 487 conviction – grand theft – may have immigration consequences. You are strongly advised to talk to obtain legal advice on your immigration status if you are charged with this crime.

    Los Angeles Theft Crimes Defense Lawyer

    If you or a loved one is charged with Penal Code 484 (petty theft) or 487 PC (grand theft) and you are looking to hire Los Angeles criminal defense attorney for representation, please contact us. The initial consultation is free of charge. Call 866-713-2159 today and schedule a consultation.

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