Things get lost every day. People can drop their wallets, their driver’s licenses, and other important items without realizing it. These items may then be found by someone else. In California, individuals who find lost property have a legal responsibility to try to find the property’s owner.
Keeping lost property without trying to find the owner can lead to charges under California Penal Code Section 485: Misappropriation of Lost Property. You can focus on the legal applications of PC 485 charges right here with the Simmrin Law Group.
Defining the Misappropriation of Lost Property
Individuals can be charged with the misappropriation of the lost property if:
- They Find a Lost Item and Have
- Knowledge About the Item’s True Owner OR
- The Means to Discover the True Owner AND
- They Keep the Item Without Attempting to Give the Item Back to the True Owner
PC 485 charges can apply if an individual keeps a lost item for themselves or if they give it to another person who does not have any right to the item. Keeping a lost item without trying to return it can be considered theft in California.
Levels of Severity for PC 485 Charges
Not all instances of misappropriation of lost property are treated the same way in the court system in California. Generally, the severity of a PC 485 accusations will depend upon the value of the lost property and the criminal history of the individual that misappropriated the property.
Misappropriation of Items Worth Under $950
The misappropriation of items worth less than $950 can be prosecuted as an act of petty theft. This charge can be treated as an infraction or a misdemeanor. Infraction charges are generally very minor, while a misdemeanor charge will be more serious.
Individuals could be charged with an infraction if they keep a lost item that is not worth very much and they don’t have a previous criminal record. Individuals with previous convictions are more likely to be charged with a misdemeanor.
Misappropriation of Items Worth Over $950
An individual who misappropriates a lost item worth more than $950 can face grand theft charges. Grand theft can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the facts surrounding the case. Felony charges are more severe than both infractions and misdemeanors in California.
The Penalties for Misappropriation of Lost Property
Individuals who are convicted of misappropriation of lost property can face a number of different penalties, depending upon the severity of the charges they are facing. These penalties can include:
- Fines of Up to $250
- Fines of Up to $1,000
- Jail Time of Up to One Year
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Prison Time of Up to Three Years
Other Charges Similar to the Misappropriation of Lost Property
The misappropriation of lost property can be treated very much like either:
These theft crime charges can lead to fines and lengthy periods of incarceration. You can learn more about them with a theft crimes lawyer in Los Angeles.
Legal Defenses for PC 485 Charges in California
You don’t have to try to build a defense to PC 485 accusations on your own. You can get professional help today by reaching out to a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer can focus on the circumstances surrounding your case while working to show that:
You Tried to Find the Property’s Rightful Owner
PC 485 requires you to try to locate the rightful owner of a piece of lost property if you can. Sometimes, the lost property doesn’t have any identifying features, or there may not be enough identification for you to find the owner. However, if you attempted to find the property’s owner, you may avoid a PC 485 conviction.
You Attempted to Return the Property to the Rightful Owner
You might discover the rightful owner of a lost item and attempt to return their property. Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond your control, you may be unable to actually return the lost item. If you made reasonable efforts to give back the property, you might not be convicted under PC 485.
Speak with a Lawyer About Misappropriation of Lost Property Charges
California Penal Code Section 485: Misappropriation of Lost Property charges can be difficult to resolve alone. Get the help you need by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. You can reach out to our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles right now for a FREE consultation.
Call us at (310) 896-2723 or complete our online contact form so we can begin working on your defense today.