Embezzlement & Theft

At Hamasaki Law, we will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. We will spend the time with you explaining various options and strategies and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact us now to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

  • Petty Theft
  • Grand Theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Burglary
  • Auto Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Receiving Stolen Property
  • Common Issues and Defenses

California law defines petty theft as the unlawful taking of someone else's property that is valued at nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or less. (Pen. Code, §488.). (Pen. Code, §484.). Petty theft that occurs when someone physically takes property that belongs to someone else is known as "theft by larceny."

Petty theft is a misdemeanor that can result in up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000.

California law defines grand theft as the unlawful taking of someone else's property that is valued at more than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950). (Pen. Code, §487.). Shoplifting at a high-end store can be considered grand theft so long as the value of items stolen is over $950.

Grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Those convicted of misdemeanor grand theft may face up to one year in county jail. Those convicted of felony grand theft may face 16 months to three years in prison.

California law defines embezzlement as fraudulently appropriating property that belongs to someone else, and has been entrusted to the accused. (Pen. Code, §503.). Individuals can be charged and convicted of embezzlement even if they never intended to keep the property in question and were only borrowing it temporarily.

In California, embezzlement is charged as either California grand theft or California petty theft depending on the value of the property that is stolen or borrowed. As a result, it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specifics of the case. If charged as petty theft, it is a misdemeanor that can result in up to six months in county jail. If charged as misdemeanor grand theft, penalties include up to one year in county jail. If charged as felony grand theft, penalties may result in up to three years in county jail.

California law defines a burglary as entering a room, structure, or locked vehicle with the intent to commit a felony (or in some cases, a petty theft) once inside. (Pen. Code, §459.). Although burglary is commonly referred to as "breaking and entering," there is no requirement of forced entry into a room or structure except in the case of auto burglary. Burglary of a house, apartment, hotel room or place where people are living is known as "first degree burglary," or "residential burglary." Burglary of a store, business or any other place where people do not live is known as "second degree burglary," or "commercial burglary."

First degree burglary is always charged as a felony in California and can result in up to six years in state prison. Second degree burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of items stolen. Misdemeanor burglary can result in up to one year in county jail. Felony commercial burglary may result in up to three years in county jail.

California law defines auto burglary as someone entering a locked automobile or trunk of an automobile with the intent to steal the car, steal property contained in the car, or commit any other California felony inside the vehicle.

Auto burglary is a form of "second-degree" burglary. This means that auto burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Conviction of misdemeanor auto burglary may result in up to one year in county jail. Conviction of felony auto burglary may result in 16 months to three years in prison.

California law defines robbery as taking personal property that is in the possession of someone else, from the victim's person or immediate presence, and against the victims will, through the use of force or fear. (Pen. Code, §211.). The robbery of any driver or passenger on a bus, taxi, streetcar, subway, cable car, etc., that takes place in an inhabited structure, or robbery of any person who has just used an ATM and is still in the vicinity of the ATM is considered first degree robbery. Second degree robbery includes all other forms of robbery.

In California, robbery is always charged as a felony. First degree robbery may result in three to nine years in state prison. Second degree robbery may result in two to five years in state prison.

California law defines receiving stolen property as people who buy, receive, conceal, sell, or withhold from the owner any property that they know has been stolen. (Pen. Code, §496.).

Receiving stolen property may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Conviction of misdemeanor receiving stolen property may result in up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $1,000. Conviction of felony receiving stolen property may result in 16 month to three years in county jail, and/or a fine up to $10,000.

  • You did not intend to steal or shoplift the item
  • The item actually belonged to you
  • The person who owned the item consented to you taking it
  • False accusation is a valid defense in the case of petty theft, grand theft, embezzlement, burglary, auto burglary, robbery, or receiving stolen property
  • In the case of embezzlement, you believed in good faith that you had a right to the property, lack of criminal intent
  • In the case of burglary, mistaken identity, you were present when other people committed the burglary, but you were not in on it. You did not form the intent to commit a felony or theft until after you entered the building or room. You took items from the building because you genuinely believed the owner had given you permission. Or the items you took actually belonged to you.
  • In the case of auto burglary, if the car wasn't locked, if you did not intend to commit a theft or felony inside the car, or if there is insufficient evidence
  • In the case of robbery, you didn't use force or fear to take the property, you honestly believed that you had a right to the property, you are a victim of mistaken identity, or you were falsely accused
  • In the case of receiving stolen property, you didn't know the property was stolen, you didn't know that you possessed the stolen property, you intended to return the property to its owner of the police when you acquired it ( aka "innocent intent"), or voluntary intoxication

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