Theft Crime Attorney in Santa Rosa
Ronald Dinan & Associates Offers Free Consultations
Our firm is focused on helping individuals who have been accused of serious
Some of the theft cases that we handle include:
- Bad Checks
- White Collar Crimes
- Identity Theft
- Credit Cards
- Armed Robbery
- Commercial / Residential Burglary
Penalties for Theft Crimes
In general, theft can be divided into the categories of grand theft or
petty theft. When money, labor, real, or personal property is taken and
has a value exceeding $950, it is considered grand theft. Less than $950
is considered petty theft.
Some exceptions for characterizing theft as grand theft:
- Taking of domestic fowls, fruits, vegetables and farm crops with a value of $250+
- Fish, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, etc.
- When any property it taken directly from a person
- When the property taken is an automobile, horse, bovine animal, etc.
- When the property is a firearm.
When the theft involves a firearm—regardless of value—it is
a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, 2 years,
or 3 years. There are a number of theft cases that carry a higher imprisonment
range—such as 2, 4, or 6 years for first-degree burglary or 2-4
years for counterfeiting and/or extortion. In misdemeanor cases, defendants
can be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.
Petty theft generally includes property taken that has a value of less
than $950 with certain exceptions. The value of the property stolen is
generally estimated in U.S. dollars and is based on the reasonable and
fair market value. The test for this analysis is what the property would
bring in the open market—not its special value to the owner or its
Embezzlement is defined in Penal Code §503 as "the fraudulent
appropriation of property by a person to whom it was entrusted."
The acts constituting embezzlement are punishable in the same manner as
other thefts. A relationship of trust and confidence is essential to embezzlement,
and generally, the alleged perpetrator of an embezzlement crime is an
employee but may be a public officer, trustee, executor, administrator,
guardian, conservator, attorney, or a person who takes money in a voluntary trust.
Burglary is a theft by a person who enters some type of building or structure,
vehicle, or vessel with the intent to commit theft or any felony. As an
example, a person who simply goes into a store and makes the decision
to steal something once he or she is in the store is guilty of either
grand theft or petty theft, depending on the value of the merchandise
stolen. By the same token, if the same person enters the store with the
intent to steal something, that person is then guilty of burglary. Evidence
of the intent is generally proven by virtue of the person's possession
of an instrument of theft such as a shopping bag.
Penal Code §460 defines the degrees of burglary.
A burglary of an inhabited dwelling, house, or vessel designed for habitation,
or a trailer coach is burglary of the
first degree. All other kinds of burglary are
second degree. Burglary in the first degree is punishable by imprisonment in a state
prison for 2, 4, or 6 years. Burglary charged as a misdemeanor in the
second degree is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding
one year. Felony burglary in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment
in a state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years.
Generally, most state prison terms have a day-for-day credit, meaning,
for example, if a person is sentenced to 2 years or 24 months in state
prison, he or she serves half of that, or 1 year since 2010. Some crimes,
however, constitute a "strike," and therefore, only 15% credit
is given. Using our example, a person who is sentenced to 24 months in
jail must serve 85% of the sentence. Numerous statutes reduce the ability
to be sentenced to a disposition other than state prison. For example,
Penal Code §462 requires probation not to be granted in a first-degree
burglary case except in unusual cases in which the interests of justice
would be served if the person is granted probation. This is a much more
restricted level of sentencing than is normally found in a grand theft case.
Robbery is the: 1) taking of personal property; 2) in the possession of
another; 3) from his or her person or immediate presence; 4) against his
/ her will; and 5) accomplished by means of force or fear. The value of
the item must exist, not at any particular dollar level.
Two degrees of robbery can be cited in charges.
First-degree robbery is robbery from 1) anyone who is an operator of a
bus, taxicab, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicle
including a train; or 2) a person who is in an inhabited dwelling house
or on a boat. It is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 3,
6, or 9 years. First-degree robbery can also consist of the robbery of
a person using an ATM, or who has used an ATM, or who is simply in the
vicinity of an ATM. This type of robbery is punishable by imprisonment
in a state prison for 3, 4, or 6 years.
All other kinds of robbery are second degree. Second-degree robbery is
punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 2, 3, or 5 years. Additional
prison time can be levied against an individual in a sentencing enhancement,
which can include an additional prison sentence of 3 to 6 years or enhancement
for the use of a firearm. For example, using a firearm in a violent offense
can constitute a 10-year enhancement; discharging a firearm in a violent
offense can result in a 20-year enhancement; and discharging a firearm
with great bodily injury in a violent offense can carry a 25-year to life sentence.
Carjacking is a specific theft crime that involves the taking of a motor
vehicle that someone else possesses or taking a vehicle from another person
with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive that person
of the possession of the vehicle. This offense is accomplished by force
or fear. Carjacking is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison
for a term of 3, 5, or 9 years.
Receiving Stolen Property
Pursuant to Penal Code §496(a), receiving stolen property is a crime
that does not necessarily apply to a person who steals something but rather
to a person who buys or receives property that has been stolen or in some
way has been acquired by theft or extortion, and the person who receives
it knows that the property is stolen.
The three basic elements of the crime of receiving stolen property are:
- Knowledge of the theft that resulted in the acquisition of the property;
- Actually receiving, concealing, selling, or withholding the property; and
- Property actually obtained by extortion or theft.
A defense to this particular crime is when a defendant receives stolen
property and has the initial intention to restore the property to the
rightful owner. This individual has no criminal intent and therefore is
not guilty of receiving stolen property.
Another defense is based on evidence produced by the defendant that there
was no knowledge that the property was stolen and that the stolen property
was received in good faith or for a price that would not lead someone
to believe it was stolen. Purchasing a $5,000 ring for $100 may very well
be evidence of the receipt of stolen property. Purchasing the same ring
for $2,500 may provide a defense.
Aggressive Theft Crime Defense in Northern California
If you have been charged in a theft case, one of the best decisions you
can make is to speak to Ronald Dinan & Associates. To speak with our
Sonoma County criminal defense attorney, call us today! With offices in
Santa Rosa, Lakeport, Eureka, Napa, Ukiah, and San Rafael, our attorneys
are here when you need them. We are proud to offer
free consultations for our clients, so contact us now to learn why our firm is a fit for