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California Penal Code § [Section] 463(a) – Looting

California Penal Code § [Section] 463(a) – Looting

California Penal Code [CPC] §463(a)Looting – California law makes it illegal to commit Burglary during an official emergency or after declaration of an evacuation order. The declaration or emergency order had to have originated with an “earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other natural or manmade disaster.”[1]

Looting can be punished under California's “Three Strikes” system. Therefore, if you're convicted of the offense, you can serve three years for a first offense and pay a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, you'll likely have to serve at least 180 days in a county jail even if you're given probation allowing you to serve part of your sentence outside jail. Finally, you can also be made to perform as many as 240 hours of community service in any capacity the court chooses.

What Does California Penal Code §463(a) [Looting] Prohibit?

In sum, to be guilty of Looting under CPC §463(a), you must:

  • Commit a Burglary; AND,
  • Loot during a state of emergency or an evacuation order; AND,
  • Loot after an earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other disaster; AND,
  • Commit the crime during/within an affected area.

Defining “Looting” Under California Penal Code §463(a)

To convict you under CPC §463(a), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Burglary: You committed a Burglary (punishable under Section 459);[2] AND,
  • Second Degree: The crime was punishable in the second degree (per Section 461);[3] AND,
  • Emergency/Evacuation: You committed the offense “during a ‘state of emergency' or a ‘local emergency,' or under an ‘evacuation order;'” AND,
  • During and Within…/County: The looting occurred “during and within an affected county”; AND,
  • Order Resulted From…: The order resulted “from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other natural or manmade disaster.”[4]

Note: The fact that you entered a structure “damaged by [an] earthquake, fire, flood, or other natural or manmade disaster”[5] does not prevent you from being convicted under this Code section.

Example: Defendant Darla is a protestor walking along Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. She's carrying a sign. Looters break into the closed Melrose Apple Store as she's walking past the façade. The looting has already lead to a citywide emergency order, but Darla (who knows none of the looters) decides to enter the store to take video of herself standing on the sales floor while holding her sign and shouting protest slogans instead of going home. She does this, posts the video to her Instagram account, and leaves, only to be confronted by Police Officer. Police Officer arrests and charges her under §463(a). Darla claims a First Amendment right to do what she did. Should she be convicted?

Conclusion: To commit a crime under Section 459, Darla had to have intended a Larceny[6] or some felony offense at the time of entering the store. The felony could've been of any nature, but it had to be more than a mere misdemeanor. But Darla did nothing more than enter the store without the owner's permission (a violation of the Trespassing law, CPC §602[7]), which we know because the store was closed at the time of the incident. When inside, she took video of herself and nothing more. Darla didn't know any of the looters, furthermore, so she can't be accused of aiding and abetting their crimes; otherwise, Darla could've been convicted as if she herself had been looting the store. Considering these facts, Darla should be acquitted. We need not consider whether Darla has a speech protection against conviction. The charge is defective. She didn't commit a crime that qualifies for punishment under CPC §463(a).

Penalties For Looting Under CPC §463(a)

California's “Three Strikes” law applies to a conviction under CPC §463(a). Looting triggers application of CPC §1170(h). In the event that you receive a three “strikes,” you will be sentenced to at least twenty-five years (25) in a state prison. Therefore, you can serve three (3) years for a first offense[8] and pay a fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars) for a first offense.[9]   

Additionally, you're likely to serve at least 180 (one-hundred-eighty) days in a county jail before you're granted probation, if you're granted probation for the offense. If the court decides an exception is in order, it must put the reasons why on the record.[10] The court may, finally, order you to perform as many as 240 (two-hundred-forty) hours of community service in any program it believes is appropriate.[11]

Note: Looting penalties are separate from the penalties associated with Burglary and Larceny.

Defenses To California Penal Code §463(a) – Looting

Three common defenses against a charge of Looting under CPC §463(a) are:

You Were The Victim Of Police Misconduct

Example: Defendant Derrick, a protestor, is arrested at a Westwood demonstration. He is guilty of nothing more than refusing to leave when ordered by police, who know him from other demonstrations, but when he's taken into custody, Arresting Officer claims to have found stolen property on Derrick's person and charges him with looting a nearby jewelry store while the area was under an emergency order. While there was such an order in place, Derrick swears he stole nothing, that he's being targeted because of past protest activity and that Arresting Officer never even searched him. But Derrick is nonetheless facing conviction under CPC §463(a). Is Derrick guilty of the accusation?

Conclusion: As the facts make clear, Derrick committed no offense involving property or theft. In other words, Derrick could not have committed Looting. But Arresting Officer still falsely reported finding stolen property on Derrick's person and charged him as though he'd committed a theft or Burglary. This is an elementary form of police illegality. Since Derrick did not commit the crime in any form, he should be acquitted. He was the victim of police misconduct.

You Didn't Have The Intent To Commit The Crime

Example: Defendant Dean lives above Pet Store in Glendale. A wildfire produces an evacuation order for his neighborhood. Store Owner abandons Pet Store and leaves dozens of pets. Dean, who's about to flee as well, sees the pets inside the store. He breaks the front window, leaps through the opening, and begins to haul pets in cages and fish tanks from the store, leaving them on the sidewalk. Soon Dean has rescued every pet in Pet Store. But Police Officer doesn't realize this when she spies Dean on the street with the animals. Deducing from the still-visible price tags that the pets are worth well over $1000, she accuses Dean of looting the store and arrests him. Dean, an animal lover, swears that he was only trying to help. He faces a charge under CPC §463(a) nonetheless. Should Dean be convicted on these facts?

Conclusion: Dean entered Pet Store without Store Owner's permission, which is evident because Dean had to break a window to get inside. He intended on taking property from the store. His neighborhood was under an evacuation order. Dean took animals worth more than $1000, without the permission of Store Owner, and exited the store. These are the basic elements of Burglary, with Grand Larceny as the crime intended on entry. Combining these facts, a conviction under CPC §463(a) is not inappropriate. But the intent that motivated Dean's entry wasn't permanently taking property for himself, which is the state of mind necessary to establish larceny, which, in turn, is necessary for a Looting conviction. Dean meant only to move the animals to a safe location. Thus, he didn't burglarize the store and should be acquitted. Dean didn't have the intent to commit the crime.

You Were The Victim Of Mistaken Identity

Example: Defendant Deeann, an African-American woman, goes to a protest in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to her, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is using experimental facial recognition software at the protest. They're filming the faces of protesters and using an online database to look for people with outstanding warrants. The is how the LAPD films Deeann's face. The software, however, wrongly identifies her as a woman living in San Francisco who's wanted for looting during a city emergency that occurred there a year prior. Deeann is arrested. She points out that the recognition software has a very high error rate and often misidentifies people, with women of color being among the most frequently misidentified. Should Deeann be acquitted?

Conclusion: Facial identification software is being used with increasing frequency by law enforcement agencies across the country.[12] But the programs they're using are prone to error. Many are especially likely to misidentify women of color, according to recent statistics.[13] Deeann is one such person. As the facts make clear, Deeann has been mistakenly identified as a person living hundreds of miles from LA. There is no basis to the charge. Since Deeann is completely innocent, she must be acquitted. She was the victim of mistaken identity.

Related Offenses

Note: The crimes below are described generally as “related” because they're frequently charged with CPC §463(a) and/or have common elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The California Penal Code includes several offenses related to Looting: Rioting (CPC §404(a)), Trespass (CPC §602(m)), Vandalism (CPC §§ [Sections] 594(a)(1)-(3)), Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Area (CPC §409.5(c)), Illegal Sightseeing At The Scene Of An Emergency (CPC §402(a)(1)), Burglary (CPC §459), Grand Theft (CPC §§487(a)-(d)(2)), Petty Theft (CPC §484(a)), Assault On Emergency Personnel (CPC §241(c)), Resisting Arrest (CPC §148(a)(1)), and Obstructing Or Resisting An Executive Officer (CPC §69(a)).

Rioting

California's law on Rioting (CPC §404(a)) makes it illegal for two or more people to use force or threaten to use force to disturb the peace when they have the immediate ability to carry out the threat. But the Rioting law applies only to places “of confinement,” meaning “any state prison, county jail, industrial farm, or road camp, or any city jail, industrial farm, or road camp, or any juvenile hall, juvenile camp, juvenile ranch, or juvenile forestry camp.”[14] The crime is related to Looting because looting often occurs during riot situations, making it possible to face charges for committing both in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Rioting, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.[15]

Note: You must act without legal authority to violate this Code section.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Rioting

To convict you under CPC §404(a), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You and one or more people, acting together and without legal authority, willfully disturbed the public peace by using force or violence or by threatening to use force or violence with the immediate ability to carry out those threats.

Example: Defendant Davida is an inmate at a women's prison in Camarillo. She hates the guards, she hates the prison staff, and she reserves particular disdain for fellow prisoners. One morning, Davida enters the prison dining room and begins to make a riotous commotion. She throws her tray onto the floor. Then she takes the trays of other prisoners and throws those to the floor. The prisoners yell angrily; Davida, in turn, shouts obscenities and makes violent threats. Guards seize Davida and take her to a solitary cell. She is later charged under CPC §404(a). Is Davida guilty of the crime on these facts?  

Conclusion: Davida, acting without authority, willfully disturbed the peace inside a place of confinement (a women's prison) by using violence to destroy her tray and the trays of others. She then made violent threats to other prisoners. These are elements of the offense. But Davida acted alone. The crime of Rioting requires at least two people acting in concert. Davida, it follows, may be guilty of some form of offense, but she cannot be convicted under CPC §404(a).

Trespass

 

Trespass (CPC §602(m)) occurs when a building or property is entered without the owner's permission.  While it is usually punished as a Misdemeanor, Trespass can be joined with an offense like Assault to aggravate the sentence in a criminal trial, if the facts are right. Trespass is related to Looting because acts of looting require illegally entering a structure.

If you're convicted of Trespass, the penalty may be:

  • A term up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine up to $2,000 (two-thousand dollars); OR
  • Both a fine and imprisonment. [16]

You can always find more information in the California Trespassing Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. If you have questions, contact any of the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will always go directly to a lawyer – guaranteed.

California Jury Instructions – Trespass

To convict you under CPC §602(m), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully entered land or a building belonging to someone else without the consent of the owner, the owner's agent, or the person who had lawful possession of the property. You also occupied the land or building continuously until you were removed.

Example: Defendant Dominica, a teenager, lives in Reseda. Much to her amusement, Victim Vern, her elderly neighbor, yells daily at her for walking across his lawn and threatens to call the police every time she does it. Dominica stands on Vern's lawn one day and films as Vern screams at her. She taunts Vern, further enraging him. Then she returns home and posts the video onto a social media page. Police see it after Vern reports Dominica. She is arrested and charged under §602(m). Is Dominica guilty as charged? 

Conclusion: Dominica willfully entered onto Vern's property without his permission. This is half the offense. But Dominica left the property and returned home long before police arrived. To trespass, she had to remain on Vern's property until police arrived to remove her. She did not. Dominica is thus innocent of the crime - a conclusion which applies even though she posted evidence of having been on Vern's lawn to a social media page.

Vandalism

Vandalism (CPC §§ [Sections] 594(a)(1)-(3)) occurs whenever any person maliciously defaces, damages, or destroys real or personal property that that person does not own. Defacement includes making any “unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design, that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on real or personal property.”[17] Vandalism often occurs during Looting, thus making it possible to face charges of committing both crimes in the same trial.

Penal Code §§594(a)(1)-(3) is a “wobbler”[18] offense in California. You can be charged with either a Felony or a Misdemeanor violation of the law, depending on the value of the property allegedly damaged. If you are guilty of Vandalism resulting in at least $10,000 in damage, the penalty, without enhancement, may be:

  • A term of up to three (3) years in a state prison;[19] OR,
  • A fine of up to $50,000 (fifty-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[20]

Note: California's “Three Strikes” law may also apply to a conviction under CPC §§594(a)(1)-(3), since vandalism can trigger application of CPC §1170(h).[21] In the event that you receive three “strikes,” you'll be sentenced to at least twenty-five years in a state prison.

You can always find more information in the California Vandalism Lawyers section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. If you have questions, contact any of the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will always go directly to a lawyer. Guaranteed.

California Jury Instructions – Vandalism

To convict you under CPC §§594(a)(1)-(3), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You maliciously defaced (with graffiti or with other inscribed material), damaged, or destroyed real or

personal property. You did not own the property or own the property with someone else. Finally, the amount of damage caused by the vandalism was valued at $400 or more.

Example: Defendant Deidre is driving along a Santa Monica street when Victim Victor jets into the road and cuts her off. Deirdre is furious. She follows Victor, waits for him to park and leave his car, then sprays nasty messages on the windows with ketchup and makes a small scratch in the driver's side door's paint before exiting. Victor returns, sees the damage, has Security Guard review available video, sees Deirdre attack his car, and summons Police Officer. Victor reports an act of vandalism, estimating that the damage to his door will cost $200. (Ketchup cleanup will cost nothing.) Should Police Officer pursue a charge under CPC §594(a) against Deirdre?

Conclusion: In this case, Deidre violated CPC §§594(a)(1) and (2) by defacing Victor's car with graffiti and then damaging the door. These are elements of the crime. But the amount of damage Victor estimates Deirdre to have produced falls well short of the threshold for prosecution under the Code section. The damage had to meet or exceed $400, twice the cost of the damage done by Deirdre. Thus, Police Officer should decline to charge Deirdre under CPC §594(a).  

Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Area

Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Area (CPC §409.5(c)) involves entering an area that's been closed by a public official (including police, officers or employees of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, officers or employees of the Department of Fish and Game, “and any publicly employed full-time lifeguard or publicly employed full-time marine safety officer”) after a “calamity including a flood, storm, fire, earthquake, explosion, accident, or other disaster,”[22] or during a “riot or other civil disturbance.”[23] The crime is related to Looting because violations of Section 463 often occur in areas that have been closed, permitting prosecution for both crimes in the same trial.

If you are guilty of Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Area, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to six (6) months in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[24]

Note: “If the calamity creates an immediate menace to the public health, the local health officer may close the area where the menace exists[.]”[25] However, authorized representatives “of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network”[26] are exempted from prosecution.

California Jury Instructions – Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Area

To convict you under CPC §409.5(c), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You entered an area that had been closed by a public official (including police, officers or employees of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, public health officers, officers or employees of the Department of Fish and Game, publicly employed full-time lifeguards and publicly employed full-time marine safety officers performing official duties) after a calamity or during a riot or civil disturbance.

Example: Defendant Davey maintains a blog called ‘LA Citizen Journalist.' While he is not a journalist by profession, Davey uses the blog to report on stories that he finds interesting. He conducts investigations and posts the results, bragging that he “works for no one but himself.” Thus, when parts of Los Angeles are shut down owing to rioting, Davey decides to go to report on the scene. He drives into a closed area of the city. Police encounter him and arrest Davey for violating CPC §409.5(c). Davey insists that, as a reporter, he's exempt by the law from prosecution. Is he correct or should he be convicted of the crime?

Conclusion: Davey willfully entered an area closed by police during a riot. These are the elements of the crime. Although there's an exception provided for members of the press, as Davey says, the Code section subpart creating the exemption applies to “duly authorized”[27] representatives of news services. But Davey isn't a reporter by profession. He merely maintains a blog, one which, by his own admission, does not exist as part of any news organization. The blog is simply Davey's avenue for reporting on stories about which he's curious, for whatever reason. Thus, Davey should be convicted of the crime.     

Illegal Sightseeing At The Scene Of An Emergency

The crime of Illegal Sightseeing At The Scene Of An Emergency (CPC §402(a)(1)) can occur whenever a person “goes to the scene of an emergency, or stops at the scene of an emergency, for the purpose of viewing the scene or the activities of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel, or military personnel[.]” If the person viewing emergency personnel impedes personnel performing “duties in coping with the emergency,” that person commits a crime. However, the interference must occur “during the time it is necessary for emergency vehicles or [emergency] personnel to be at the scene of the emergency or to be moving to or from the scene of the emergency for the purpose of protecting lives or property[.]”[28] The crime is related to Section 463(a) because both that offense and CPC §402(a)(1) can occur in environments under emergency orders.

If you are guilty of Illegal Sightseeing At The Scene Of An Emergency, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to six (6) months in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[29]

Note: While an exception exists for people whose duties are “to view [the] scene or [ ] activities,”[30] the law also states that “a person shall include a person, regardless of his or her location, who operates or uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, remote piloted aircraft, or drone[.]”[31]

California Jury Instructions – Illegal Sightseeing At The Scene Of An Emergency

To convict you under CPC §402(a)(1), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You went to the scene of an emergency, or stopped at the scene of an emergency, to view the scene or the activities of police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel or military personnel. You also impeded personnel performing duties in coping with the emergency. At the time, it was necessary for emergency vehicles or personnel to be at the scene or to be moving to or from the scene in order to protect lives or property. Finally, your duties did not include viewing the scene or the activities there.

Example: Defendant Douglass is thinking of enrolling in a firefighter training program. When a wildfire tears through his neighborhood, Douglass recognizes the situation as an opportunity to observe fire professionals in action. He ignores an evacuation order. He also maintains a distance of at least fifty feet from trucks and firefighters while watching them. Nonetheless, Fire Chief, seeing that Douglass hasn't evacuated, reports him for violating CPC §402(a)(1). Douglass is arrested and charged. He insists that he had a duty to observe the firefighters' activities because he's considering firefighting. Is he correct or should he be convicted?

Conclusion: Douglass chose to remain on his street during an emergency. He did so to observe the activities of firefighters. Considering that the fire also occurred in a neighborhood, firefighters and fire trucks had to be present to protect property, at a minimum. Additionally, Douglass is not a firefighting student; he's simply considering enrolling in a program. Thus, in practical terms, there's no difference between Douglass and someone who never considers becoming a firefighter; neither can claim to have “duties” that include viewing activities at the scene of a fire. These facts suggest that Douglass should be convicted. But Douglass did not impede or interfere with the vehicles or the personnel at the scene. This is a critical fact. Owing to the absence of this sole element of the charge, Douglass should be acquitted. He did not commit the offense, a conclusion which follows even though Douglass himself was incorrect.

Burglary

Penal Code §459 creates the crime of Burglary, which occurs any time someone enters a building with the intent to commit Theft or a felony inside the structure. The crime is related to Looting because entering a structure in order to commit Burglary can give rise to both charges in the same trial.

Burglaries inside homes, vessels, floating homes or trailers are first-degree burglaries. All other forms are in the second degree. This makes Burglary a “wobbler”[32] offense. If you're convicted of Burglary in the first degree, the penalty can be:

  • A term of up to six (6) years in a state prison;[33] OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[34]

Note:  You must form the intent commit Burglary at or before the time of entering the structure.

More information can be found in the Burglary Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. If you have questions, contact any of the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County.  An attorney will take your call. That's guaranteed.

California Jury Instructions – Burglary

To convict you under CPC §459, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You entered a building, a locked vehicle, or a structure intending to commit some form of theft or a form of felony, or you entered a noncommercial establishment or a commercial establishment outside business hours with the same intent. If property was taken, it was worth more than $950.

Example: Defendant Don cleans has a job cleaning offices and businesses at night. Computer Store, one of his clients, gives him a key to their building so he can come and go without involving daytime staff. Don arrives at work one night to find a stack of new and very expensive iPhones in the middle of the merchandise floor. He decides to pocket a phone that will sell for $2000 and goes about his work. Later, however, he thinks better of the act and returns the phone. But, after Security Officer reviews the night camera footage and sees Don take the phone, Don is arrested and charged under CPC §459. Don points out that he did not actually take the phone from the store. Should Don be convicted as charged anyway?

Conclusion: Don willfully took and moved property worth more than $950. He didn't have to take it from the store. The fact that he moved it with the intent of keeping it was sufficient. These are elements of the crime. Thus, returning the phone meant nothing. But Don did not enter the building with the intent of committing theft. He was simply an employee arriving at work. Furthermore, Don had Computer Store's permission to enter the building, as evidenced by the fact that he was given a key to come and go. Computer Store not only knew he would be present; it wanted him to be there. Therefore, while Don can be charged with a crime (that is, Grand Theft (see below)), he should be acquitted of Burglary.

Grand Theft

 

California's statute criminalizing Grand Theft (CPC §§487(a)-(d)(2)) applies, broadly, whenever property is taken with value exceeding $950. The crime also applies to automobile theft and the theft or firearms. Grand Theft does not require the use of fear or force. You must, however, move the property and keep it for some period. The crime is related to Looting because the value of property taken during looting sprees often exceeds $950, permitting, in the same trial, charges alleging the commission both crimes.

Since California punishes Theft in two degrees (Grand and Petty), the facts surrounding your case will determine the severity of the charge. This makes Grand Theft a “wobbler”[35] crime. If you are convicted of the Felony form of Grand Theft, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to three (3) years in a state prison;[36] OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.[37]

Note: Grand theft involving a firearm is considered a “serious felony,”[38] making it punishable under the state's “Three Strikes” system. If you amass three “strikes” on your record, you'll serve at least twenty-five years in a state prison.

You can find more information in the California Grand Theft Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer - guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Grand Theft

To convict you under CPC §§487(a)-(d)(2),[39] the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You took someone else's automobile, firearm, or property which was worth more than $950. When you took it, you intended on taking it permanently or removing it for long enough that the owner would lose a major portion of its value or enjoyment of it. Finally, you moved and kept it for some amount of time.

Example: Defendant Denisa, a college student, is late for class one morning and can't find her laptop computer. Desperate, she takes the computer of Victim Vicca, her roommate. She intends on returning the computer at the end of the day. Vicca, however, is shocked to find that the computer was taken and assumes that Denisa actually stole it. She reports Denisa for theft of a computer worth $1300. Denisa is arrested at home and charged under CPC §487(a). She defends herself by pointing out that she has no criminal history and returned the computer when she got back. Should she be convicted of the crime?

Conclusion: Denisa willfully took Vicca's property, moved it, and kept it for some time. The computer was worth more than $950. These are elements of the offense. However, as the facts make clear, Denisa intended on returning the computer at the end of the day, and the facts don't say that Vicca was denied major use or enjoyment of the computer in the meantime. Denisa, therefore, simply borrowed Vicca's computer for a day and returned it to Vicca when she returned. If there's any remaining doubt regarding her intentions, Denisa has no criminal history. This fact creates additional reasonable doubt that should be resolved in Denisa's favor. Denisa, therefore, should be acquitted of the charge.

 

Petty Theft

 

California's statute criminalizing Petty Theft (CPC §§484(a)) applies, broadly, whenever property is taken without the owner's permission. (The property must be worth $950 or less, nor can it be a firearm or an automobile.) Petty Theft does not require the use of fear or force. You must, however, move the property and keep it for some period. The crime is related to Looting because property is stolen during looting, permitting, in the same trial, charges alleging both crimes.

If you are convicted of Petty Theft, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to six (6) months in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[40]

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Petty Theft

To convict you under CPC §484(a),[41] the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You took someone else's automobile, firearm, or property which was worth less than $950. When you took it, you intended on taking it permanently or removing it for long enough that the owner would lose a major portion of its value or enjoyment of it. Finally, you moved and kept it for some amount of time.

Example: Defendant Dickie admits that he took a fifteen-dollar bottle of vodka from LA Supermarket. He admits he intended on drinking it. Finally, he admits keeping it long enough that he was arrested with the bottle outside the store. But Dickie insists he must be charged with “shoplifting,” not Petty Theft, because he stole from a shop rather than a person. Should Dickie be convicted under CPC §484(a)?

Conclusion: Dickie admits to taking property that didn't belong to him with the intention of permanently denying Supermarket the value of its property. He moved the bottle and kept it for a significant amount of time. These are elements of the offense. What Dickie does not understand is that shoplifting a fifteen-dollar bottle of vodka is a form of Petty Theft punishable under CPC §484(a). Dickie has, in other words, been properly charged. He should be convicted of the charge.

 

Assault On Emergency Personnel

Assault On Emergency Personnel (CPC §241(c)) is a crime when, broadly speaking, assault is committed on a peace officer, emergency services provider, code enforcement officer,[42] medical professional, or a search and rescue member performing duties. You must know (or reasonably should know) that the victim is emergency personnel performing duties at the time of the assault to be guilty under the CPC. The crime is related to Looting because violations of CPC §241(c) can occur in emergency situations.

If you're convicted of Assault On Emergency Personnel, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $2,000 (two-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[43]

You can find more information in the California Assault Crimes section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer - guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Assault On Emergency Personnel

To convict you under CPC §241(c), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You did an act that by its nature would result in application of force to a person. You did the act willfully. When you acted, you knew facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize the act would result in application of force. You had the present ability to apply force. When you acted, the victim was lawfully performing duties as emergency personnel. Finally, you knew, or reasonably should've known, that the victim was emergency personnel performing official duties.

Example: Twelve-year-old Defendant Daniel, intent on escaping Overbearing Mother for a few hours, drops to the bottom of a well that he believes to be shallow. It isn't. But Daniel feels content staying at the bottom anyway. Overbearing Mother, however, learns that Daniel is at the bottom of the well and summons firefighters to rescue him. He won't let them lower themselves down the well, however, and goes as far as firing a BB gun at firefighter Victim Vinnie when Vinnie tries to get to him. However, Daniel eventually gets bored and assents to being rescued after several hours. But he's amazed to be arrested and charged under CPC §241(c) as soon as he returns to the surface. Should Daniel be convicted?

Conclusion: Daniel, knowing that Vinnie was acting in his capacity as a firefighter, willfully fired a BB gun at Vinnie while Vinnie was trying to rescue him. The act would naturally result in the application of force against Vinnie. We can assume that Daniel, the shooter, understood that force would result. Rescue was one of Vinnie's duties as emergency personnel, furthermore, and Daniel clearly had the ability to apply force against Vinnie. These are the elements of the crime. Juveniles, finally, can be charged under CPC §241(c). Thus, Daniel should be convicted of the charge.

 

Resisting Arrest

California Penal Code (CPC) §148(a)(1), Resisting Arrest, occurs in California whenever a person resists or delays officers who are performing duties of their positions.  Section 148(a)(1) also applies to efforts to prevent emergency technicians from performing their professional duties. The crime is related to Looting because arrests are common in emergency situations involving looting, creating the possibility of facing charges for both offenses in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Resisting Arrest, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[44]

You can find more information in the Resisting Arrest section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. That is always guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Resisting Arrest

To convict you under CPC §148(a)(1), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You delayed or obstructed an officer or emergency services technician. You acted while that person was performing a duty of his or her job. Finally, you knew or reasonably should've known that the person was an officer or an emergency services technician.

Example: Defendant Desdemona, who hasn't been out in months, goes to a bar in Venice Beach. She gets exceptionally drunk. After hours of drinking, Desdemona leaves the bar, falls onto the pavement, and passes out, causing bystanders to summon police. Minutes later, Victim Vijay, one of the responding officers, is flashing a light into Desdemona's eyes when she awakens. Desdemona is embarrassed to find herself surrounded by gawping onlookers and police. She slaps the flashlight from Vijay's hand, pushes him away, and shouts, “I'm fine! Get off me, cop!” Vijay places Desdemona under arrest as she's pulling herself to her feet. Desdemona claims that she can't be guilty of Resisting Arrest because she wasn't being arrested when she lashed out. Is she correct or should she be convicted under CPC §148(a)(1)?

Conclusion: Desdemona prevented Vijay, a law enforcement officer, from performing a duty which was part of his job (that is, evaluating the condition of a severely intoxicated person after being summoned to a public scene by concerned bystanders). Desdemona lashed out while he was performing those duties; she knocked the flashlight from his hands and pushed him, specifically. That she referred to Vijay as “cop” indicates, finally, that she knew that she was dealing with a law enforcement officer when she acted. These facts are sufficient for Desdemona to be convicted. Desdemona did not have to resist a literal arrest to violate the statute. She needed only to resist Vijay while he performed lawful duties. Desdemona, therefore, is incorrect and should be convicted of the accusation.

Obstructing Or Resisting An Executive Officer

California's law against Obstructing Or Resisting An Executive Officer (CPC §69(a)) applies whenever a person tries to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing job duties through threat or violence. You also have the right to resist a peace officer is he or she is making an illegal arrest or using excessive force. The crime is related to Looting because arrests are often made in emergency situations involving looting acts.

If you're convicted of Obstructing Or Resisting An Executive Officer, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[45]

Note: It's isn't illegal to take a picture of an executive officer performing duties so long as you have a right to be present.

You can always find more information on the Resisting An Executive Officer page of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. Guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions

To convict you under CPC §69(a), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You unlawfully used force or threat to resist an executive officer who was performing his or her lawful duty and you knew the executive officer was performing his or her duty when you acted.

Example: Defendant Doug is a protester who opposes the public health policies of the Governor. Doug knows the Governor is attending a private reelection fundraiser organized in Beverly Hills by Expensive Restaurant as a campaign contribution. He goes to the site and waits for the Governor's limousine to arrive. When it does, he leaps from a bush, lands before the car, shouts a slogan and then refuses to move when ordered to stand aside. Police arrest him. Doug is charged under CPC §69. Is Doug guilty?

Conclusion: Doug impeded the progress of the Governor's vehicle. This could serve as part of the basis for a conviction. However, the Governor was obstructed as he proceeded towards a private fundraiser. The Governor, in fact, was not even hosting the event; Expensive Restaurant organized it as a form of contribution to Governor's reelection campaign. This is not an official duty of the Governor's office. Rather, it's something gubernatorial candidates do to raise money because they wish to occupy the office. Doug also knew that the Governor was on his way to such an event when he stood in the limousine's path, so, furthermore, so it's reasonable to assume that he didn't intend on preventing the Governor from performing a lawful duty at the time he acted. All reasonable doubts are to be resolved in the defendant's favor in this country. Doug, therefore, should be found innocent.

What Can I Do If I'm Charged With Looting?

The State of California treats Looting as a serious offense. If you're charged with Looting, it's essential that you retain a skilled, dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your rights, freedom, and livelihood are at stake.

Remember, a professional criminal defense attorney may be able to:

  • Negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain;
  • Reduce your sentence;
  • Or even get charges dismissed completely.

The attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group have an excellent understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California's criminal justice system. We can represent you in Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena and many other Southern California cities. 

If you or someone you know has been arrested for, or charged with, Looting, our attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and plan a strategy that will help you obtain the best possible outcome.

Contact the Kann California Defense Group today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

References

[1] See California Penal Code [CPC] § [Section] 463 (a).

[2] See CPC §459.

[3] See CPC §461 (b).

[4] See Endnote 1.

[5] See above.

[6] See CPC §484 (a).

[7] See CPC §602 (m).

[8] See CPC §1170 (h) (1). [Amended (as amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 36, Sec. 17) by Stats. 2018, Ch. 1001, Sec. 1.)]

[9] See CPC §672.

[10] See Endnote 1.

[11] See above.

[12] For more information, see ‘How facial recognition became a routine policing tool in America' by Jon Schuppe. NBC News Online, May 11, 2019.

[13] A 2019 federal study found that “facial-recognition software produced higher rates of false positives for black people and Asian people than whites. The software had a higher rate of false positives for those groups by a factor of 10 to 100 times, depending on which algorithms were used. [¶] Women were also misidentified more frequently than men across the board[.]” See ‘Facial-recognition technology has a racial-bias problem, according to a new landmark federal study' by Aaron Holmes. Business Insider Online, Dec. 20, 2019.

[14] See CPC §404 (b).

[15] See CPC §405.

[16] See CPC §602.

[17] See CPC §594 (e).

[18] See “Wobbler” definition at USLegal.com.

[19] See Endnote 8.

[20] See CPC §594 (b) (1).

[21] See Endnote 8.

[22] See CPC §409.5 (a).

[23] See CPC §409.5 (b).

[24] See CPC §19.

[25] See Endnote 22.

[26] See CPC §409.5 (d).

[27] See above.

[28] See CPC §402 (a) (1).

[29] See Endnote 24.

[30] See Endnote 28.

[31] See CPC §402 (a) (2).

[32] See Endnote 18.

[33] See CPC §461 (a).

[34] See Endnote 9.

[35] See Endnote 18.

[36] See Endnote 8.

[37] See Endnote 9.

[38] See CPC §1192.7 (c) (26).

[39] Degrees of the offense are established in California Criminal Jury Instructions 1801 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[40] See Endnote 24.

[41] See Endnote 39.

[42] See CPC §241 (d) (9) (A).

[43] See CPC §241 (c).

[44] See CPC §148 (a) (1).

[45] See CPC §69 (a).

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