A property crime might not seem as serious as another, more severe crime, but your charges can still have dire consequences. On top of potential jail time and expensive fines, having a property crime on your criminal record can make it hard to get a job, and it can make any future charges you receive harsher.
A property crimes attorney in Lakewood could be able to get your charge reduced or dropped altogether. Paying the lawyer fees is nothing compared to the price you may have to pay for your property crime charges. Simmrin law group will give you a free consultation to see what our lawyers can do for you.
What Counts as a Property Crime?
The phrase “property crime” can be vague and describes a wide range of crimes. So, let’s set out exactly what is meant by the term. According to the National Institute for Justice, a property crime is any time “a victim’s property is stolen or destroyed, without the use or threat of force against the victim.”
That doesn’t narrow the term down too much, but it does tell us the basic definition. Within the umbrella of “property crimes,” there can be any number of different charges and penalties. No two property crime cases are the same.
If you’re wondering whether your charge is a property crime and what you can do about it, a criminal defense attorney can help. At your free initial consultation, one of our attorneys will listen to your story and tell you what you can expect from your case. Since you don’t pay anything upfront, it’s worth it to at least see how a lawyer can help you.
For a free legal consultation with a property crimes lawyer serving Lakewood, call (310) 896-2723
What Are Some Examples of Property Crimes?
Because the umbrella of “property crime” is so large, it’s hard to describe every example of one. However, there are some notable examples of property crimes that occur most often. If you don’t see your charge on this list, a Lakewood property crime attorney could still be able to help.
Common examples of property crimes include:
It’s illegal to deface, damage, or destroy property under California Penal Code (CPC) § 594(a)(1) – (3). To actually convict you of vandalism, the prosecution has to show these things:
- That you acted maliciously
- That you did not own the property
- That you caused over $400 in property damage
A skilled criminal defense lawyer can use those parameters to reduce or dismiss your charge. If we can prove that any of those three things are not true, then you cannot be charged with vandalism.
If you have willfully and maliciously caused any structure, forest land, or property to burn, then you are guilty of arson according to CPC § 451. That goes for anyone who ‘aids, counsels, or procures” the burning as well. Arson is a serious charge in California, and if the fire causes bodily harm or forest damage, it can carry a more severe sentence.
You may also be charged with reckless burning under CPC § 452. This charge is different from arson, as it is not necessarily punishing the willful and malicious burning of property, but rather burning something without regard to the consequences of your actions.
Any time you enter or enter or remain on someone else’s property without permission, you are trespassing. This charge is usually a misdemeanor, which is less serious than a felony. However, if you commit an “aggravated trespass,” which includes a physical threat to someone as you trespass on their property, then you could face felony charges.
Trespassing is often lumped in with other charges, so you could face extra penalties if you were trespassing while committing another kind of property crime. A Lakewood, CA, property crimes attorney could be able to get the prosecution to drop your trespassing charge or reduce an aggravated trespass charge.
Under CPC § 459, you are guilty of burglary if you:
- Enter any commercial structure, residential structure, or locked car, and
- Have the intent to commit theft
Burglary in California is different from shoplifting. If you enter a store with the intent to steal, then you are guilty of burglary. However, if you had no intent to steal when you entered the store but you did end up illegally taking merchandise equaling less than $950, then you are only guilty of shoplifting, a lighter offense.
A burglary charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you’re facing felony charges, your property crimes attorney in Lakewood could be able to reduce your charge to a misdemeanor.
Lakewood Property Crimes Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
What Are the Penalties for Property Crimes?
Just as each property crime is different, so too are the penalties for different property crimes. However, property crimes are not taken lightly, and even the lightest of offenses could mean jail time.
- Misdemeanor vandalism charge: A fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison.
- Felony vandalism charge (causing more than $400 in property damage): Up to a $50,000 fine and up to three years in prison.
Likewise, while a misdemeanor trespassing charge can mean six months in jail, a felony aggravated trespassing charge could put you in prison for three years.
Under CPC 451, arson is always charged as a felony. That means that if you’re assigned the harsh penalties for arson that resulted in bodily harm, you could be facing up to nine years in prison. If a reckless burning under CPC 452 resulted in bodily harm, it can carry a prison term of up to six years.
First-degree burglary (the burglary of a residence) is always a felony, so it carries a harsher sentence than second-degree burglary (the burglary of any other structure). You could be sentenced to up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. For a second-degree burglary, you could receive jail time up to three years and a fine of up to $10,000.
These are the harshest extents of the sentences usually given for property crimes charges. Even if you get a lighter sentence, your charge will remain on your personal record forever. A property crimes lawyer in Lakewood could be able to expunge your charge.
Talk to a Lakewood, CA, Property Crimes Attorney for Free
A property crime can hang over your head for the rest of your life, not to mention the potentially life-changing jail time and fines you may have to pay. Hiring a skilled lawyer could mean avoiding the worst of your sentence, or even avoiding a charge altogether.
The Lakewood property crimes lawyers at Simmrin Law Group want to help you move on with your life without your charge following you. Contact us today to get your free consultation with a California attorney.