San Diego Theft and Embezzlement Defense Attorney

SD Theft Crimes Attorney
Taking the property of another person with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner is theft.  Theft crimes vary greatly, depending on the value of the property stolen, whether violence was or would be expected to be involved, who the victim is and many other factors.  Some theft crimes, like petty theft/shoplifting are on the low end of the spectrum of crimes.  On the other hand, robbery, carjacking and residential burglary are felony strike offenses in California and carry long possible prison sentences.  If you or a loved one has been charged with a theft offense, however serious, it is important to have an experienced, knowledgeable and passionate lawyer on your side.  Being arrested and facing criminal charges is stressful, scary and can carry serious consequences.  

Because theft is considered a crime involving moral turpitude, it can carry especially harsh consequences for employment, professional licensing, and immigration procedures.  You will want to do everything you can to avoid a conviction and keep your record clean.  If you've previously been convicted, there may be steps you can take to clean up your record, but the best way to keep your record clean is to fight your case the right way from the beginning.

Many theft offenses are eligible for diversion programs, whereby a defendant can avoid a criminal conviction.  Additionally, in misdemeanor cases, your lawyer may be able to negotiate what is called a "civil compromise" whereby you can pay the victim to make them whole and they'll agree to have the criminal case dismissed.  This is often the best possible outcome for defendants in theft cases.  Moreover, the recent passage of Prop 47 has made many theft offenses that were previously treated as felonies, now misdemeanors for most offenders.  If you are currently facing felony theft charges, or were previously convicted of a felony theft valued under $950, you may be eligible for reduction to a misdemeanor.  If you have any questions about Prop 47 and how it might apply to your specific theft case, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Loncar now for a free consultation.  888-200-9454.

Prop 47 created a new Penal Code section for shoplifting.  PC 459.5 makes it a misdemeanor to go into a store a steal up to $950 during business hours.  Previously, many shoplifting cases were charged as felonies, even with small values.  PC 459.5 is a response by voters, making punishment fit the crime.  Defendant's with particularly heinous prior convictions may still be charged with felonies, but most defendants in theft cases benefit greatly from the change in the law.  Still, a conviction under PC 459.5, PC 484, or PC 488, petty theft, an have negative consequences.  Discuss this case with your lawyer and explore eligibility for different types of diversion to not only avoid jail time, but also avoid suffering a criminal conviction.

Theft of property valued above $950 is grand theft in California, pursuant to PC 487.  Grand theft is a "wobbler" meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.  If charged as a felony, the potential consequences, including up to three years in prison, are much more serious.  Just because a case is charged as a felony, does not mean that your lawyer will not be able to negotiate the charge down, or later have the charge reduced pursuant to a 17B motion.  Grand theft is a serious charge, and it is smart to have an experienced, skilled attorney on your side.

Like grand theft, receiving stolen property, PC 496 is a "wobbler" and can be charged as a felony.  Prop 47 makes most PC 496 cases where the value of the property is below $950.  Receiving stolen property can be easier for the prosecution to prove than theft, when someone is not caught in the act.  PC 496 makes it a crime to buy, sell, conceal or withhold any knowingly stolen property.  Your defense likely rests upon whether the property is in fact stolen and/or whether it was reasonable for you to know that the property would have been stolen.  Factors include: source, purchase price, secrecy and more.

PC 459 is California's burglary statute.  Entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony or any theft in that structure constitute a burglary.  The intent must be proven to exist at the time of entry, a common defense to burglary charges.  First degree (residential) burglary is a strike offense under California's "Three Strikes" Law.  Second degree (commercial) burglary is a "wobbler" and covers theft from vendors either (a) of property valued above $950, or (b) during non-business hours.  Breaking into a store at night, for example would be second degree burglary because no one lives in the property, but would likely still be charged as a felony.  Prior to Prop 47 passing in November 2014, many shoplifters were charged with burglary, because the facts supported a finding that the person entered the store with the intent to steal (burglary tools, no money, etc.)

Robbery (PC 211) is a very serious crime, always a felony, and a strike in California.  Theft by force is treated most harshly because of the risk of violence to innocent people.  When weapons, especially firearms, are involved or if someone is injured during the commission of the crime, there are enhancements that greatly increase a robbery defendant's exposure to California State Prison time.  Often, the force element is satisfied by relatively minimal conduct that does not seem to justify the harsh consequences.  For example, an Estes robbery may be charged if a shoplifter resists store security, trying to get away.  If you or a loved one is facing robbery charges, know that the consequences could be severe, including long terms in prison.  A better outcome is possible.  You need an attorney who understands when to use a police line up, when to file motions and how to cross examine witnesses at the preliminary hearing and trial.  Speak to a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney now.

Embezzlement, PC 503, is a different kind of theft.  Most thefts concern the unlawful taking of possession of the property of another.  In embezzlement cases, the embezzler is lawfully in possession of the property, but attempts to unlawfully convert the property into their own.  A common example involves an employee who is entrusted to possess his or her employer's property, but is meant to return it and does not.  Embezzlement of property valued below $950 is a misdemeanor.  If the property is worth more than $950, it is a "wobbler" and could be filed as a misdemeanor or felony.

Having a full understanding of the charges against you, the possible pleas, defenses and likely outcomes is imperative to making the right decision regarding your criminal case.  If you are facing theft charges in San Diego, contact our office for a Free Consultation with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.  888-200-9454.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
By Nicholas Loncar



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