The Criminal Victimization report of 2018, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, found that violent crimes have been increasing since the year 2014. However, property crime victims have decreased from 7.99% to 7.27%. Burglaries, a type of property crime, have also decreased by 0.2% between 2014 and 2018 as well. Property crimes are specific types of crimes typically involving private property.
Types of Property Crimes
Property crimes relate to the theft or destruction of another party’s property. So usually property crimes are committed to gain financial or proprietorial benefits. Property crimes could be lower-level misdemeanor-type offenses like shoplifting, or more violent offenses that harm victims like robbery. The verdicts in property crime depend on the degrees of varying factors like whether force was used, the total amount damaged or stolen, the potential injuries to the victims and the amount of property destroyed. The following offenses are considered property crimes:
- Theft: California Penal Code 484 is the statute that makes it illegal for an individual to take someone’s property and possess it as their own.
- Shoplifting: Shoplifting can be described as taking an item from a retail merchandiser without the intention of paying for it. For example, placing an item in your bag, and leaving the store without purchasing it.
- Burglary: If you enter another person’s property without permission or unlawfully, by force or coercion, with the intention of stealing or committing a crime, then you’re guilty of burglary.
- Robbery: Differs from burglary due to the use of force to steal someone’s property. For example, using a knife to hold someone up, or using a gun to rob someone is an act of robbery.
- Arson: When someone intentionally burns any type of structure, land, or building with the intent to defraud insurers, or damage property.
- Vandalism: If someone destroys, degrades, or defaces the property of another, without permission, then they’re guilty of the crime vandalism. Vandalism crimes, like other property crimes, carry varying degrees depending on the location, and the amount of damage done.
- Extortion: The use of threats to obtain property from another individual. For example, threatening to harm someone in the future, or harm their family in exchange for money or property.
Frequently Asked Questions about San Diego
What are the most common property crimes?
The three most commonly committed property crime offenses are theft, burglary, and robbery. Sometimes these terms are used synonymously, however, they are different. Theft is a general term that includes taking something from another. Burglary includes entering someone’s premises without their permission with the intent to commit a crime, and robbery involves the use of force.
What is petty theft and grand theft?
The State of California makes a distinction between petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft is usually charged as a misdemeanor because the amount stolen is normally below $950.00 However, if the amount stolen exceeds this amount, then the State of California can charge an individual with grand theft, which is a felony, and carries harsher consequences.
How are property crimes classified?
Arson, vandalism, and burglary are classified as “structure crimes” because they cause damages to real property. Structural crimes carry varying degrees from misdemeanor to felony based on the damages accrued.
What are the penalties in California for property crimes?
If someone is found guilty of committing a property crime in California, then they may face misdemeanor or felony charges, according to the degree of the crime. When the crime involves unlawfully obtaining another’s property, the perpetrator is normally charged according to the total value of the property involved, and the methods through which the property was obtained.
What are “hot products”?
Hot products are goods that are stolen to be resold. Some of the hottest items for shoplifting include tobacco products, alcoholic products, and fashionable clothing. In general, a “hot” item is a stolen item that is easily concealed, valuable, removable, and can be enjoyable. The hottest theft items include cash, electronics, and jewelry.
What happens when a juvenile commits a property crime?
If a juvenile commits a property crime, then a judge may order them to pay restitution if they’re within the legal age of employment. A judge can even order them to find employment. If they’re unable to do so, a judge may order the parents or guardians to pay the damages. Juveniles and their families will also be responsible for paying fines levied against them, as well as the juvenile could be sentenced to probation, or detention. Judges can also order a juvenile to seek counseling.
How can I defend myself against a property crime allegation?
To defend yourself in a property crime allegation, it’s important to prove that you are not responsible, or that you did commit an act, but are not responsible for the crime. If you can demonstrate in court that you have an alibi, or the prosecution is unable to convince the jury that you are guilty without a reasonable doubt, then you may be found innocent.
In some cases, you may have committed the act for which you are being charged, but that doesn’t mean you have to be held responsible. In cases of self-defense, entrapment, being under the influence, or if you were found to be insane while committing the act, the courts could find that you are not responsible for the crimes that you’ve been charged for.
Should I hire a lawyer to handle my property crime case?
A reputable property crime attorney can help you prepare evidence, navigate state and federal document filing bureaucracies, and represent you in court. An experienced property crime lawyer will ensure that your legal rights are adequately protected. If you have any questions regarding your case it would be in your best interest to speak with a San Diego Property Crime Attorney now.