Property Crime Attorneys in Bakersfield, California
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the rate of property crime has steadily declined since its peak in 1980 to a low of 2,071 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020. Even so, facing charges for one of these crimes remains a very serious matter and you need to educate yourself about your options.
Your first step after being arrested should always be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand the charges and penalties, as well as map out your possible defenses. If you’re in the Bakersfield, California area including Lamont, or anywhere throughout Kern County, give us a call at the Underwood Law Firm today.
Understanding Property Crime
The term “property crime” covers a broad range of offenses. These can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony charges. In general, this term is used to describe a crime where someone’s property was taken (theft-related) or destroyed (non-theft-related) without their permission, and in most cases, the perpetrator did not inflict any violence or harm on the victim. These charges are typically only applied to crimes against private property but can also apply to crimes committed against public or government-owned property.
Common Examples of Property Crimes
Because there are so many types of property crimes, it can be helpful to understand the basics of each of them:
Vandalism: This charge indicates the property has been damaged, destroyed, or defaced. A vandalism charge is usually a misdemeanor, but if the damaged property is valued at over $950, it may be classified as a felony.
Arson: Arson charges also occur when property has been damaged or defaced but are specifically reserved for damages caused when someone intentionally, maliciously, or recklessly sets fire to the property. This can apply to private property, forests, vehicles, or structures. Since the consequences of arson can be so dangerous, these are typically classified as felony offenses.
Trespassing: Trespassing is a misdemeanor charge but usually involves more than simply going onto another person’s property. Criminal trespassing charges are usually reserved for those who trespass with the intention of harming someone, causing damage to the property, interfering with a business, or occupying the land.
Burglary: Burglary charges can be either felonies or misdemeanors and apply to crimes where someone enters into the private property of someone else with the intent of committing a crime. It’s important to note that you do not need to use force when you enter the property for it to be considered burglary. What matters is the intent to commit theft. You can still face charges even if you did not complete the theft.
Theft: Theft charges are usually divided into grand theft and petty theft, with the former applying to property valued over $950. Petty theft charges are typically misdemeanors while grand theft is usually a felony. In both cases, you must be found guilty of taking the property of someone else with the intent to permanently deprive them of it.
There are several kinds of property crimes, and therefore the penalties for a conviction can vary greatly. In many cases, you’ll have to pay a fine and you may also have to serve jail time. A judge may also order you to pay restitution, which means paying back the original owner for the value of the property you damaged or stole. Many of these convictions will also go onto your permanent criminal record which can make it very difficult to gain employment, find a place to live, or purchase a firearm.
In other cases, if this is your first offense and you’re only facing a misdemeanor charge, you and your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal where you only have to serve probation in lieu of fines or jail time. Keep in mind that like most criminal charges, the penalties will grow more severe if you have previous convictions in your past.
Don’t Face Your Charges Alone
The most important step you can take when charged with a property crime is to contact a local criminal defense attorney who has experience with crimes like these. A good lawyer can educate you about your options, investigate your case, examine evidence, and prepare a defense that gives you the best chance of a favorable decision by the judge. Ultimately, property crime charges must be taken seriously.
Property Crime Attorneys Serving Bakersfield, California
If you’re in the Bakersfield, California area and would like to speak with an attorney about a recent property crime arrest, reach out to us at Underwood Law Firm. Here you'll find the legal assistance you need from lawyers who are truly committed to listening to your side of the story and fighting for your rights. Call our team of attorneys today to schedule a consultation.