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San Diego Theft Crimes Lawyer

Theft Crimes in San Diego

Theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s property. There are a variety of different theft crimes in San Diego, some common theft crimes are as follows:

  • Burglary under PC 459; entering a structure with the intent to commit a theft therein.
  • Carjacking under PC 215; using force or fear to take a vehicle from someone’s immediate possession.
  • Robbery under PC 211; using violence, force, or threats to take property from someone’s immediate possession.
  • Receiving stolen property under PC 496; purchasing or receiving property that is known to be stolen.
  • Embezzlement under PC 503; stealing from another while in a position of trust with that person.
  • Petty Theft under PC 484 and 488; the stealing of property valued up to $950, most commonly based on shoplifting.
  • Grand Theft under PC 487; the stealing of property valued at more than $950.

There Are Different Ways to Commit Theft

By Larceny:

Stealing and carrying away another’s property without consent.

By Trick:

Deceiving a person to get them to let you take their property.

By Embezzlement:

Depriving another person of something that was entrusted to you.

By False Pretenses:

Making false representations to obtain possession of another's property.

Theft Crimes: Prosecution's Burden of Proof 

Theft is defined as a criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person’s consent. Basically, to convict someone of a theft crime, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Unauthorized taking or keeping or using of another’s property;
  2. Without consent;
  3. With the specific intent to permanently take or withhold the property owner’s possession or right to the property; 
  4. The defendant moved the property and kept it for a period of time.

Determining Factors for Misdemeanor or Felony Theft

The following are factors that the issuing attorney at the District Attorney's office will use to determine the severity of the charges for theft:
  • The Type of Property Stolen:

If the property is a car or a firearm, the values the property is worth does not matter.

The theft of these items is considered grand theft and can be convicted as a felony.

  • The Value of the Property Stolen:

The less value the property is worth, under $950, the more likely a misdemeanor charge.

The higher the value the property is worth, over $950, the more likely a felony charge.

  • The Age of the Victim:

If the victim is a dependent or elderly person.

  • The Defendant's Criminal History:

If the defendant has any prior criminal history even if unrelated to theft, could still have an affect on sentencing.

Misdemeanor Theft Crimes

  • Petty Theft
  • Shoplifting

Wobbler Theft Crimes

  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Second Degree Burglary
  • Embezzlement
  • Receiving Stolen Property

Felony Theft Crimes

  • First Degree Burglary
  • Grand Theft 
  • First Degree Robbery
  • Second Degree Robbery
  • Car Jacking

Penalties for Theft Crimes

  • Fines anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000;
  • Sentences anywhere from 6 months in county jail to 20 years in state prison;
  • Informal and formal probation depending on the charge;
  • Sentencing for repeat offenders could result in a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor;
  • Repay the value of the merchandise which was allegedly stolen;
  • Complete an agreed to number of community service hours;
  • Attend anti-theft classes.

Enhancements for Theft Crimes

An enhancement offense is an offense whose commission alone increases the penalties for the original crime. In addition to the penalties noted above, a person can receive an additional state prison sentence for any of the following:

  • One year if the amount of the stolen property was worth more than $65,00.00.
  • Two years if the amount of the stolen property was worth more than $200,000.00.
  • Three years if the amount of the stolen property was worth more than $1,300,000.00.
  • Four years if the amount of the stolen property was worth more than $3,200,000.00.
  • Three to six years if a person received a great bodily injury in the process of the offense.
  • Ten years if the offense involved a gun.
  • Twenty years if the gun was discharged during the offense.
  • Twenty-five years if a person is injured or killed with a gun during the offense.

Q: What is a burglary?

A: Under California Penal Code section 459, burglary is entering a structure with the intent to commit a theft therein. For a conviction of burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You entered a structure; AND
  • You did so with the intent to commit theft or a felony therein.

Q: What is considered residential burglary in California?

A: In California, first-degree burglary is an offense that involves the burglary of an inhabited dwelling. Residential burglaries are considered felonies because the structures involved in the commission of the offense are dwellings and they may be inhabited. The penalties for first-degree burglary will vary depending on whether or not there was someone inside the residence at the time of the burglary. You could be sentenced to two, four, or six years in state prison, a maximum of $10,000 in fines, no probation, and receive a strike on your criminal record.

Q: What is considered commercial burglary in California?

A: In California, second-degree burglary is a wobbler offense that involves the burglary of any structure that is not a residence. Commercial burglaries are considered wobblers because these offenses tend to be less serious since they occur after business hours when the structures are not generally inhabited. Depending on whether the structure was inhabited during the commission of the offense will determine if you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony second-degree burglary. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor commercial burglary you could be sentenced to one year in county jail, a maximum of $1,000 in fines and informal probation. However, if you are convicted of a felony commercial burglary you could face up to sixteen months, two or three years in county jail, a maximum of $10,000 in fines and formal probation.

Q: What is considered a hot prowl burglary in California?

A: Under California Penal Code section PC 460(a), any residential or commercial burglary, wherin you are charged and it is proven that another person, other than an accomplice, was inside the structure at the time of the burglary will result in a special strike allegation. Hot prowl burglaries are considered the most serious offenses because the allegation that there are occupants still inside the structure during the commission of the burglary is what makes it a strikeable offense. California’s Three Strikes sentencing scheme adds significant time to the prison sentence of repeat offenders of serious or violent felonies.

Q: What is considered robbery in California?

A: Under California Penal Code section 211, robbery is using violence, force, or threats to take property from someone’s immediate possession. For a conviction of robbery, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You took personal property from another person’s body or immediate presence;
  • You did so through force or fear; AND
  • Against the person’s will.

Q: What are the enhancements for robbery in California?

A: An enhancement is an offense whose commission alone increases the penalties for the underlying offense. In California, a sentence for a robbery conviction may be enhanced anywhere from ten years to life if a gun is used in the commission of the robbery. If the structure is inhabited, you could be facing an additional and consecutive three, six, or nine years in state prison. Lastly, if great bodily injury results in the commission of the robbery, you would be looking at anywhere from three to six years being added to your original prison sentence.

Q: What are the immigration implications for robbery?

A: For immigration purposes, robbery is considered an aggravated felony if a sentence of one year or more is ordered. Robbery is also considered a crime of moral turpitude by the federal government because it goes against society’s standards of morality. As such, any non-U.S. citizens who receive a conviction for robbery may be rendered inadmissible in the United States. Inadmissibility means that you are not eligible for permanent residency or citizenship. In effect you could be subject to deportation proceedings, removed and not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. This is why it is crucial that you retain a skilled criminal theft defense attorney with experience handling the immigration consequences of a conviction. At Monder Law Group, we have vast experience handling theft cases and immediately recognize the immigration implications of these charges. Our goal is to provide you with a complete defense in order to avoid the detrimental immigration consequences that a criminal conviction for robbery implies.

Q: What is considered carjacking in California?

A: Under California Penal Code section 215, carjacking is using force or fear to take a vehicle from someone’s immediate possession. For a conviction of carjacking, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You took a vehicle that did not belong to you;
  • The rightful owner, driver, or passenger of the vehicle was close by;
  • That person did not want you to take the vehicle.
  • You did so through force or fear; AND
  • With the intent to permanently deprive this person of the vehicle.

Q: What is considered receipt of stolen property in California?

A: Under California Penal Code section 496 receipt of stolen property is purchasing or receiving property that is known to be stolen. For a conviction of receipt of stolen property, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You received, bought, sold, or aided in selling, concealing, or withholding property that had been stolen; AND
  • You did so knowing that the property was stolen property.

Q: What is theft by larceny?

A: Theft by larceny is the stealing and carrying away of another person’s property without their consent. For a conviction of theft by larceny, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You took possession of another person’s property;
  • Carrying away the property however slightly;
  • You did so with the intent to deprive the true owner permanently or for a significant time of enjoyment of the property; AND
  • Without the true owner’s consent. 

Q: What is theft by trick?

A: Under California Penal Code section 484 theft by trick is using fraud to deceive a person to get them to willingly let you take their property. For a conviction of theft by trick, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You obtained property that you knew belonged to someone else;
  • The property owner consented to your possession because you used fraud or deceit to get him to let you take his property;
  • When you obtained the property, you had formed the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently or to deprive the owner of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property;
  • You kept the property for any length of time; AND
  • The true owner did not intend to transfer ownership of the property.

Q: What is theft by embezzlement?

A: Under California Penal Code section 503 theft by embezzlement is fraudulently converting ownership of another person’s property that was entrusted to you by that person. For a conviction of theft by embezzlement, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The property owner entrusted the property to you;
  • You fraudulently converted the property or used it for your own benefit; AND
  • You did so with the intent to deprive the true owner of the use and enjoyment of his property.

Q: What is theft by false pretenses?

A: Theft by false pretenses is knowingly making false representations or claims in order to obtain possession of another’s property. For a conviction of theft by false pretenses, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You knowingly deceived the property owner by fraudulent representation or pretense;
  • You did so with the intent to obtain title to the property; AND
  • The property owner transferred ownership of the property in reliance on the false representation.

Q: What is considered petty theft in California?

A: Under California Penal Code section 484 petty theft is the unlawful taking with the intent to steal property that is valued at $950 or below. For a conviction of petty theft, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You took possession of another person’s property;
  • Moving the property however slightly;
  • Keeping the property for any period of time however brief;
  • Without the true owner or agent’s consent; AND
  • You did so with the intent to permanently deprive the true owner of the value or enjoyment of the property. 

Q: What is the difference between petty theft and grand theft?

A: Pursuant to California Penal Code section 484 petty theft is a misdemeanor offense that involves the stealing of property that is valued at less than $950. Whereas under California Penal Code section 487, grand theft is a wobbler offense that the prosecution has discretion to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. Grand theft involves the stealing of property that is valued at more than $950, is a firearm, is an automobile, or the item stolen was physically and directly taken off of someone.

Q: What is considered grand theft auto in California?

A: Under California Penal Code section 487(d)(1) grand theft auto is the unlawful taking with the intent to steal an automobile. For a conviction of grand theft auto, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You took possession of another person’s automobile;
  • Moving the automobile, however slightly;
  • Without the true owner’s consent; AND
  • You did so with the intent to permanently deprive the true owner of the value or use of the automobile.

Q: What factors does the prosecution consider when deciding whether to charge theft as a misdemeanor or a felony?

A: To determine the severity of the charges for theft, the issuing attorney at the District Attorney’s office will look at the type of property that has been stolen, the value of that property, the age of the alleged victim and your criminal history.

Q: What are sentencing enhancements for theft charges in California?

A: An enhancement offense is one whose commission alone increases the penalties for the underlying crime. Enhancements for theft offenses are generally determined by the value of the stolen property. If you are being charged with theft of property that was worth more than 65,000 then you may be sentenced to an additional year. If the stolen property was worth more than $200,000 then you could face a sentence enhancement of two years. If the amount of the stolen property was worth more $1,300,00 then you may be sentenced to an additional three years. If the amount of stolen property was worth more than $3,200,00 then you could face a sentence enhancement of four years. Enhancements for theft offenses may also be determined by the specific facts in your case. If a person received a great bodily injury in the process of the offense, you could face an additional three to six years. If the offense involved a gun, then you could be looking at an additional ten years. If that gun was discharged during the theft, you may be facing a sentence enhancement of twenty years. Lastly, if someone is injured or killed with a gun during the theft then you may be sentenced to an additional twenty-five years.

Q: What post-conviction remedies are available for theft convictions in California when no state prison was imposed?

A: If you received a felony conviction for a wobbler theft offense in California and you were not sentenced to state prison you may be eligible to petition the court for a felony reduction pursuant to Penal Code section 17(b). If your petition is granted by the court and your felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, you may be eligible to expunge your misdemeanor theft conviction under Penal Code section 1203.4. In effect, an expungement would mean that you will not be required to disclose that you have previously been convicted of a felony and will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction of the theft offense.

Q: What post-conviction remedies are available for theft convictions in California after serving time in state prison?

A: If you served any time in state prison for a theft offense in California, your only remedy is to petition the court for a certificate of rehabilitation pursuant to Penal Code section 4582.03. This petition will require a complete background investigation and the court has full discretion to accept or deny your petition. If the court grants your petition declaring your rehabilitation to society, then it will automatically forward your certificate to the governor of California as an application for pardon. However, it is important that you understand that a certificate of rehabilitation does not ensure a pardon by the governor.

Best Defense

Most theft crimes are wobblers, this means that the issuing attorney at the District Attorney's Office has discretion whether to file misdemeanor or felony charges. This kind of power gives the prosecution the ability to decide the sentences you will face if convicted of the charges against you. The sentences involved with theft crimes result in serious time, don't throw away your life! Take control of your future by contacting experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney Vik Monder at (619)405-0063.

Contact San Diego Theft Crimes Defense Attorney Vik Monder for a FREE consultation today at: 619-405-0063

Contact San Diego Criminal Attorney Vik Monder for a free consultation today at: 619-405-0063

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