Property Crimes

Property crimes range from low level to high-volume crimes, usually involving private property. They are common offenses like burglary, robbery, theft, arson, shoplifting, vandalism, and motor vehicle theft. The perpetrator aims at obtaining money, property, or for some individual benefit.  Some of these crimes do not require force like burglary; merely walking into a premise unlawfully with intent to commit a crime makes the activity a criminal offense.

Since the crimes committed to having the aim of benefitting the offender, they are considered property crimes. The crimes are categorized into two groups, destroyed property and stolen property where, when a property is destroyed, its vandalism or arson and stolen property being robbery or embezzlement.

Most property crimes include a spectrum of degrees depending on factors like amount stolen and use of force when committing the crime or arms in theft-related cases and the actual bodily harm in crimes like arson. Therefore, it is ideal to contact a criminal defense attorney to help you find yourself in a property crime.

Types of Property Crimes

Property crimes include taking someone's property or destruction of an individual's property. These crimes range from a misdemeanor to felonies, depending on the severity of the crime. By severity, it implies that the penalties vary as per the degree. Below are the types of crimes:

  1. Arson
  2. Burglary
  3. Robbery
  4. Theft
  5. Embezzlement
  6. Larceny
  7. Shoplifting
  8. Vandalism
  9. Criminal mischief
  10. Breaking
  11. Criminal Trespass
  12. Safecracking

Definition of Property Crimes

Most of the crimes revolve around taking someone's property without using force or even threatening actions. Most property crimes are misdemeanors because the perpetrator doesn't target to harm the victim, but if the victim is at risk of getting hurt, the crime becomes a felony. Here are the crimes in definition:


Arson occurs where a person intentionally sets fire or attempts to set fire on another person's property. The main reasons for these crimes are revenge, vandalism, hate crimes, or concealing evidence of other crimes. In some cases, individuals may set fire to their property to seek money from the insurance company.


Burglary is a crime involving individuals breaking into another person's home, business premises, or commercial building with criminal intent like stealing property. Burglars do strike the crime when the premise is unoccupied to avoid meeting the property owner at the time of the crime.


Theft occurs when a person takes another one's property without permission with the intention to deprive the owner of the property. For the crime to be theft, a person must have the criminal intent; if the offense happens by mistake, the items can be returned to the rightful owner, which may not be considered theft.


Embezzlement is a type of theft where someone takes another's property because of being entrusted with the item or property. It is a common occurrence in employment. After an employee is entrusted with company bank accounts, it can make transactions, develop the urge, and use the money for personal affairs.


Robbery is the criminal activity of taking something valuable, be it money or property, from an individual using force or threat of physical force. When the use of force is involved, the crime can be classified as theft and attract more severe penalties. Robbery, including the use of force or intimidation, and all elements of larceny crime get punitive damages charges.


Many people tend to think larceny is a common theft. Though it is taking someone's property without using any force, different states distinguish the crime from other property crimes. Each state retains the traditional common law that separates crime from theft.


Vandalism is a crime referring to intentional destruction or damage to a property belonging to another person. The damage may be graffiti, breaking windows of a car or building, or making marks on a picnic table in a park.  This crime costs business owners and the government millions of dollars in repair yearly.


Generally known as theft of merchandise, shoplifting is a type of larceny that implies that you take someone's property without their permission and intentionally deprive the owner of the property ownership. States have enacted statutes to punish shoplifting as a crime and may be referred to as retail theft or concealment of merchandise in most cases.

Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is the willful and malicious damage to any real or personal property belonging to someone else.  It involves damaging, defacing, destroying, or altering a property with criminal intent. The actions may include hacking someone's computer, removing a boundary marker, or making graffiti on an individual's vehicle.

Breaking and Entry

Breaking and entry is a type of crime that involves breaking into a property. You have to prove the unauthorized entry into a building by using force or deceit to damage the property. For example, deceiving a security guard to gain access to an area is breaking crime.

Criminal Trespass

Trespass involves someone being into another person's property without permission. Though seen as a simple crime, you shouldn't just commit the crime.

What are Property Crimes Penalties?

Compared to other California cities, Los Angeles has significantly increased crime rates that require law enforcement agencies to patrol for property crime. Statistics stagger at 80,000 to 90,000 crimes in the city of Los Angeles every year.  This implies that property crimes are more likely to happen in Los Angeles than in other US cities.

Since the numbers are growing, you should be well-versed in the penalties you will face when you commit such a crime. For juvenile cases, the penalties are:

  • Restitution - Here, a perpetrator pays for the damages for repair or replacement. The judge may direct the offender or maintain employment.
  • Fines
  • Probation - A perpetrator performs specific tasks in school or sees a counselor
  • Diversion
  • Detention can be during weekends, with enhanced supervision, and can also be full-time.

For adults, penalties for property crimes vary depending on the severity of the offense. A perpetrator charged with a misdemeanor will not face similar sentences as an individual found to have committed felony offenses.


If you are convicted of felony first-degree burglary, you face a jail term ranging from two, four, or six years in jail and a fine not exceeding $10,000. Depending on your case facts, a first-degree burglary may also constitute a strike according to California's Three Strikes Law.


Punishment for arson charges varies greatly depending on the amount of damage caused. In California, the penalties for bodily harm caused by arson is up to nine years in prison. If damage to inhabited property was generated, the offender risks up to eight years in jail. For aggravated arson, you are likely to get a life sentence. Besides, the fine for all arson-related crimes may go up to $50,000.


Highlighted under Penal Code 211, if you are convicted of robbery, you are likely to face the following sentences; three, six, or nine years in state jail for first-degree robbery, a fine of not more than $10,000, and felony probation or felony status for life.


Vandalism penalties are spelled out in PC 594. Vandalism penalties are up to one year, a maximum of $5,000 in fines, and probation for misdemeanor offenses. For felony offenses are up to a year in jail, a fine not exceeding $50,000, and probation in some cases.


The penalties for theft ranges from minor to severe, categorized under misdemeanor and felony. The punishments include a jail sentence of up to six months, a maximum fine of $1,000, restitution to the victim, or three years in probation.


Categorized into petty theft and grand theft in both misdemeanor and felony, embezzlement warrants penalties. For petty theft in misdemeanor, a perpetrator may be sentenced to six months in jail.  Additionally, a fine of up to $1,000, or even both in applies in some cases. On the other hand, grand theft attracts up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000. Felony charges in grand theft include: between sixteen months and three years in prison or a maximum fine of $10,000.


If you are charged with larceny, you are likely to face a fine not exceeding $1000, a county jail sentence of up to six months, or both if the crime is severe.  In some cases, larceny can be a wobbler offense and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, attracting a conviction of up to one year in a county jail for misdemeanor cases. Felony grand larceny warrants a penalty of up to three years in prison.


Shoplifting penalties are grouped into misdemeanor and felony. You may serve a jail sentence not exceeding six months, a probation term of up to three years, or a fine not more than $1,000. Felony penalties include; a fine of up to $10,000, a prison sentence of three years, or participation in a felony probation program.

Whether you face vandalism, robbery, or shoplifting charges, we are ready to help you battle out the court case. Going solo in such a case will warranty you a lifelong sentence, which should not be the case. Remember that insurance companies are also in business. When you present yourself to them without expertise, there's a likelihood they will give the lowest offer to compensate you as a victim to bar the case from going to trial. Our competent team of criminal attorneys will readily guide you and attend the court sessions to bargain for you the best deal from the charges.

Elements to Prove in a Property Crime

For an individual to be found guilty of a crime, a series of components must be presented. The prosecution must prove through providing supportive evidence that all parts of the crime are present, and the defense can challenge the validity of the case in one or more elements.

The key components that must be present are:

  1. Conduct

It refers to the actions taken on the part of the accused. For example, if a robber intends to commit robbery but changes their mind and doesn't actualize the act, the robber is not guilty because no conduct occurred.

  1. Concurrence

For a property crime to be concurrent, there should be an existing connection between intent and conduct. While concurrence may seem to mean "at the same time," sometimes the intent and behavior might happen at different points in time, and still, the perpetrator may be found guilty of committing a crime.

  1. Intent

This element is a defining component of a crime. The defendant should have started the crime or be aware that the offense would lead to some form of damage like arson but still satisfy their desires.

  1. Causation

For any crime committed, the defendant should be the person responsible for the offense's occurrence. For instance, when a robber armed with a gun fires a gun and misses, the intention and conduct are present, but the causation is not if the victim does not succumb to death. If the victim later drops dead because of a heart attack or any other condition, the gunshot was not the cause.

For your case to have legal standing, these four components must be present, intent, concurrence, conduct, and causation. If one of them isn't there, a case is likely to start falling apart. For this reason, a defense may freely admit to something that seems incriminating only to win the case by accepting that only one element was present and denies the rest to deconstruct the prosecution's case.

What are the Legal Defenses for Property Crimes?

Legal defenses may be available depending on the nature of the case and conditions surrounding the charges. The common defenses may include:

Innocent on the crime

Pleading innocent before a court of law can be a simple defense to criminal liability. In most cases, the defendant raises it when they did not commit a crime. This defense gives the prosecution a legal task to prove all crime elements charged that, indeed, the defendant committed the crime. You can stay innocent and prove nothing. But, you can provide testimonies, documents, and other relevant materials to show your innocence.

Alibi defense

This is an affirmative defense where you must provide evidence defending the actions. For example, in this case, an alibi requires that you say your location at the time of the incident. You must prove you were not anywhere close to the crime scene but attending to other duties elsewhere.

Besides, you must provide supportive proof of the locality through testimonies from other people or receipts from places like a restaurant where you were taking coffee in at the time of the crime or attending a sporting activity at the nearest park.

Unknowing Mistake

Sometimes a defendant may be unaware of the fundamental elements of a crime that the prosecution charges him or her within a case. For example, if you have an embezzlement charge, the defendant thought that he or she had the authority to keep the property without the owner's permission. If the defendant felt that he or she was exercising the property's power like investing with the victim's money, they would have a valid defense.

Constant Duress

Duress essentially means that you were forced to commit a crime. The defense involves an individual threatening to use force or violence to make you do an offense against your better judgment. These types of situations provide potential duress or coercion defense.

The crime was an Entrapment

A defendant is most likely to use this defense if they were pushed to commit an offense like robbery that they would not have committed otherwise. Though the entrapment defense is hard to prove, the defendant can argue that the victim, in a way, instigated the event to bring charges against him or her, and that is where entrapping sets in. However, suppose the defendant had the intent of committing a robbery. In that case, there are no chances of an entrapment defense, even if enforcement agencies or other parties provided an opportunity for the offense for them to collect evidence against the perpetrator.

Having an overview of these defenses gives you a great insight into how you can tackle your property crime case. However, to analyze particular facts and circumstances of the case, you need to have a skilled criminal defense at Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to help you argue the point. You can reach us at any time to schedule a consultation.

Fighting Against Damages in Property Crimes

When battling any property crime offenses, there is a likelihood of the case being unique from the others. First, you must understand that your claim has peculiar facts about the crime. However, in all property crimes, the defendant's trial's critical element is the availability of intent when the crime commission. It implies that you intended to act like shoplifting, committing a burglary, or robbery by the time the offense was done.

The prosecution team is tasked with proving that indeed there was a level of intent, and the defendant was acting knowing very well everything relating to their mission. You can lodge a defense as a suspect of lacking the intention to be guilty of the said crime. This can be an effective way to defend yourself from the case.

Remember that property crimes are different from other crimes where a suspect is found in possession of the evidence from an already committed crime. Offenses like burglary are based on circumstantial proofs and give you room to challenge before a law court. Your skillet attorney will use all possible avenues to ensure that the charges are dropped or get a lesser sentence instead of handling the case all by yourself.

In some instances, there could be a case of mistaken identity. This is where the person appearing to have committed a crime is not the right person. In this, you could have found the prosecution to have erred. Therefore, it is ideal to have a perfect defense in property crime cases because chances of constitutional violations are high, just like it's possible in other cases.

Therefore, you need to employ a competent attorney to help you with effective defense after a thorough investigation of the case from all angles. Seek for a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to help you walk the journey of compensation.

Grounds A Defendant May Argue On Property Crimes

In as much as a defendant may be accused of an offense. He or she may use these grounds to put themselves out of the hook.

  1. Use Criminal Burden of Proof

The burden of proof imposed on the prosecution team "beyond reasonable doubt" requires the highest standards to be applied to the criminal case. It requires the prosecution to show that the defendant was the party liable for the crime without any doubt. If there are other plausible reasons, then the defendant cannot be held responsible for the offense.

  1. Civil Burden of Proof

This implies that the prosecution must present a greater weight of evidence that is more persuasive and convincing of the defendant's liability to the crime. The evidence should be more than 50 percent in order to win the case.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Near Me

A property crime like arson can bring your life to a standstill, more so if your home gets burnt. In addition to the confusion, you will suffer from damages, severe injuries, and in some cases, the death of a loved one to a fire incident.  These losses can drain you emotionally and can also affect your financial standing.

At Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we can help you argue the case for all the damages accrued. We focus on helping you find the guilty party in the crime and the possible causes of the accident. If you're troubled with a burglary incident, reach us today for a smooth transition in your case.

We also help you identify and get witness testimony to support your claim. Contact us at 424-333-0943 if you may need help with your case.

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