Articles Posted in Theft/Shoplifting/Burglary

Shoplifting and retail theft account for a significant percentage of property crime in California, and the percentage has steadily increased since the passage of Prop. 47 in 2014. As a result, our West Los Angeles based criminal defense firm has taken on significantly more shoplifting cases than in years past. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the five most frequently asked questions posed to us by prospective clients faced with shoplifting charges in Los Angeles. If you have been recently cited or arrested for shoplifting, you will likely have similar questions and may find the following explanations beneficial:    

What kind of penalties am I facing on a 1st offense Shoplifting charge?

A first offense conviction for shoplifting carries up to 6 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, these are not mandatory punishments and only represent the maximum sentencing exposure you face if charged with shoplifting under California Penal Code 459.5. The range of punishment can vary depending on the facts of your case and your prior criminal history. Although jail time is rarely imposed on first offense shoplifting convictions, if you have a prior criminal record for non-theft related offenses or are currently on probation for a previous criminal conviction, a jail sentence could result if you were convicted of shoplifting even as a first offense. A typical 1st offense penalty usually involves a sentence of summary probation between 1 to 3 years, fines & penalty assessments, and/or community service or community labor.    

These are tough economic times. During such periods when unemployment rates are high, it is natural to see an increase in property crimes, particularly shoplifting. It is an established fact that those facing financial hardships are more likely to shoplift to pay bills or put food on the table. A number of first-time shoplifters tend to be those who do it out of desperation. However, regardless of the motive for committing shoplifting, the law is the law. Those who are convicted for shoplifting could still face possible jail time, community service, probation, and fines.

Shoplifting is defined by California Penal Code 484 & 488 as an act of purposely taking merchandise from a store without paying for the item. A person only needs to possess the item with the intent of leaving without paying for it for a shoplifting arrest to be made. Concealing an item or altering the price of an item may also result in shoplifting charges in California. The penalties an alleged shoplifter will face depend on the value of the items stolen and the criminal history of the defendant.

During difficult economic periods there is often a great increase in shoplifting cases. Normally law-abiding California citizens may become desperate and use poor judgment. These single acts should not result in prison time or heavy fines. A skilled criminal defense attorney will fight to have these charges reduced or thrown out. Alternative sentencing such as community service are possible, especially in cases where the defendant has no prior criminal record.

Police in East Los Angeles arrested four men in connection with a series of armed taco truck robberies, the Long Beach Press Telegram reports. All men were taken into custody for their alleged involvement in at least 22 felony armed robberies of taco trucks beginning in April. Police said two of the men were positively identified in a photo lineup as being responsible for the June 28th robbery and felony assault with a deadly weapon. Three others were also identified shortly afterward. According to the newspaper story, there is still one robbery suspect remaining at large.

Robbery is a serious felony crime with serious consequences in California. It is classified as a violent theft crime because most robberies involve violence or the imminent threat of violence or injury to a victim. California Penal Code section 211 defines robbery as “the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.” If use of a weapon or firearm is involved in the theft or if there is gang involvement, defendants may face “enhancements,” that could lead to much stiffer penalties.
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A 27-year-old Pomona man is facing drunk driving and several other criminal charges in Orange County after police say he hit two parked cars, struck another vehicle and robbed a cell phone from a passer-by in Fullerton. According to a news report, Fullerton police officers arrested the man for robbery, DUI, hit-and-run and driving with a suspended license.

All these charges are extremely serious and could have disastrous legal consequences including jail time, hefty financial penalties and costly legal fees. Driving under the influence is a crime in California. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. It is also a serious violation of the California Vehicle Code section 20002 to leave the scene of an accident; you are required to stop even if the accident only involves property damage and exchange identification and information with the other parties involved.
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The Orange County District Attorney has charged the former administrator of a Boys & Girls Club chapter with felony grand theft and other theft related offenses alleging that he stole $116,000 from the organization. According to an Orange County Register news report, the man pleaded not guilty to those charges. Prosecutors accused him of using the club funds to pay his wife a salary for a job she never held or performed. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 20 years in state prison.

Theft-related offenses in California involve taking another person’s property without their consent. Some of the theft offenses are charged based on the value of the items that are taken. Theft is described as a crime of “moral turpitude” which can have far reaching ramifications, including denial of both employment and professional licenses. Not only could you face jail time and hefty fines, but a theft conviction can stain your reputation, jeopardizing your career and your future.
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A Riverside woman was arrested for the CA embezzlement of more than $1 million from a Mercedes Benz car dealership in Anaheim Hills where she worked. According to a news report in the Whittier Daily News, the Orange County District Attorney is charging Sheryl Lynne Law with grand theft by embezzlement, fraud and other counts. Prosecutors say Law wrote 144 fraudulent checks to her sister-in-law, Jessica Newark, of Whittier. Law apparently noted the checks as trade-in payments from the dealership when in fact Newark never traded in a vehicle with the dealership. Newark has also been charged with embezzlement. If convicted of the fraud, both could be sentenced to 63 years in state prison.

If you are convicted of embezzlement, theft, or fraud in California it could have a significant impact on your personal life, your job, career and future. A theft or fraud conviction could not only mean a lengthy jail or prison sentence and hefty fines, but it also tarnishes your reputation. When trust is lost, it is extremely hard to regain – as an employee or as a business. It could do long-term damage and jeopardize your chances of getting a good job.
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Three people, including two men and a teenage boy, were arrested in Redondo Beach for armed robbery on the pier. According to a news report in the Daily Breeze, the victim was on the pier when the 16-year-old boy approached, raised his shirt to reveal a silver-colored handgun in his waistband and told the victim, “This is a stickup.” The teen suspect then took the victim’s skateboard and baseball cap before leaving the scene, the report stated. Two others – who were allegedly lookouts for the 16-year-old – also fled the scene of the theft crime in Los Angeles.

However, the trio was pulled over by Hermosa Beach police near Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard. The two men who were arrested were both 18 years old. The vehicle the three were in, a 1999 Toyota Tacoma, was also reported stolen. Officers found the gun, which turned out to be a BB gun along with the skateboard and the victim’scap in the vehicle.

Robbery is considered a violent crime because it involves intimidation, force or fear and in most cases a weapon such as a knife or a firearm. Robbery charges are extremely serious because they may involve physical threat and intimidation. Where victims are injured, defendants could face even more serious charges. When a Los Angeles juvenile crime is of a violent nature, it may have serious repercussions on the minor’s future. A minor has the same constitutional rights as an adult, such as having Miranda rights read to them.
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Police in Whittier arrested a teenager for theft who was reportedly carrying a small refrigerator, which officials say, he stole from a preschool. According to a news report, a witness told police that the boy was carrying the appliance from Hadley Preschool to a nearby residence. Police took the boy in to custody outside his home and returned the refrigerator. Police say other property has also been missing from the school and that they are in the process of obtaining a search warrant for the boy’s residence.

Juvenile crimes in Los Angeles are just as serious and significant as adult criminal charges. The only difference is that juvenile offenses are adjudicated in juvenile courts, which are closed to the media and the public. Juvenile proceedings are closed and the identities of the juveniles are protected. However, that does not mean juveniles are treated with kid gloves or let off easy. The penalties can be severe. Punishment for juvenile crimes could involve lengthy incarceration and can also have a significant impact on your child’s future. An adult criminal conviction could go on his or her permanent record.
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Huntington Beach police have arrested four men in their 20s, who have been accused of committing theft crimes in Orange County by robbing two residents at their home. A fourth man, a 50-year-old, has also been charged in connection with three armed home invasion robberies in Los Angeles County, The Orange County Register reports in an article. Those arrested were – Richard Martinez, 27, Jesse Paul Rubio, 28, Brian Dean Nightingale, 29, and Anthony Michael Vega, 50. Martinez and Rubio are accused of committing a similar home invasion robbery in Newport Beach in December.

Officials also believe these men may be behind several other robberies and residential burglaries in Los Angeles in addition to Orange and San Bernardino counties. Authorities say they have recovered stolen property and large cache of firearms, some of which were reported stolen in the burglaries. The four men face 34 felony charges.

Burglary and theft are property crimes in California. However, robbery falls under the category of “violent crime” because it usually involves threat and intimidation, usually with a weapon. Robbery is a far more serious crime than burglary with severe consequences. If convicted, a defendant can be looking at a lengthy prison sentence, sometimes a life sentence depending on the number of counts alleged.

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