Individuals in California can be charged with grand theft for stealing property valued at more than $950. Depending on the exact type of property stolen, the court might use more specific charges. One example of this situation is California Penal Code Section 487j: Grand Theft of Copper Materials.
The penalties for a violation of PC 487j are very similar to those used for a basic grand theft charge. However, there are some subtleties. Find out more about what makes the grand theft of copper materials unique with the Simmrin Law Group.
Review the Definition of Grand Theft of Copper Materials
The state of California defines PC 487j as any theft of any copper materials, such as:
- Copper Cables
- Copper Wires
- Copper Piping
- Copper Tubing
Individuals should only be charged with grand theft of copper materials if they steal, carry away, or take more than $950 worth of these materials.
In many cases, PC 487j violations occur when someone enters a foreclosed home or business to take valuable items left behind. Many scrap dealers pay a lot of money for copper and other metals, leading to a market for these stolen products.
If other items are taken at the same time, individuals could face additional charges for:
- California Penal Code Section 484(a) and 488: Petty Theft
- California Penal Code Section 487: Grand Theft
- California Penal Code Section 459: Burglary
Note that, if force or fear are used to take copper materials, an individual could face charges for robbery.
Examples of Grand Theft of Copper Materials
You can improve your understanding of PC 487j by reviewing these examples:
Person A notices an abandoned house at the end of their street. No one seems to live there anymore. Person A decides not to let anything go to waste and enters the property one night. Person A takes various goods, including copper materials worth around $1,000, assuming that no one owns the property. However, the property is still owned, and Person A is convicted of grand theft of copper materials.
Person B works with a plumbing company that sometimes removes damaged copper pipes from customer’s homes. The company is given the pipes as part of their job contract. Person B decides that no one will notice if he keeps a few pipes to personally sell. He makes around $2,000 and could be convicted of grand theft of copper materials.
Results of a Conviction Under PC 487j
The court system in Los Angeles can prosecute PC 487j as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on:
- The Accused’s Prior Criminal Record
- The Details of the Theft
Misdemeanor and felony convictions receive different penalties, including:
Misdemeanor Grand Theft of Copper Materials:
- Fines: Up to $2,500
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
Felony Grand Theft of Copper Materials
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Prison Time: Up to 3 Years
Any individuals accused of grand theft of copper materials should contact a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away. Both misdemeanor and felony charges should be taken seriously, as they can lead to high fines and years of incarceration.
Legal Defenses Against PC 487j Charges
Individuals who are accused of grand theft of copper materials do have legal options available. Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding a PC 487j charge, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue:
You Were Taking Abandoned Copper
It is not illegal to remove copper materials that do not belong to anyone. Sometimes, individuals may find and remove copper materials that were simply abandoned for anyone to access.
You Were Falsely Accused of Taking Copper Materials
Sometimes, false accusations are made in the legal system around Los Angeles. You may be able to prove that you were falsely accused if you have an alibi for your whereabouts at the time of the theft.
You Were Taking Your Own Copper
Legally, you are allowed to remove copper materials from your own property to sell them. A criminal defense lawyer can go over your case to see if any of these defenses would work in your case.
Get Professional Help Handling Grand Theft of Copper Materials Charges
Individuals can improve their odds for beating a charge under California Penal Code Section 487j: Grand Theft of Copper Materials by contacting a legal professional right away. The team at the Simmrin Law Group has experience handling theft charges. Let our professional criminal defense lawyers go over your situation today with a FREE consultation.
You can reach us by filling out our online contact form or calling (310) 896-2723.