Last Thursday marked the resolution of one of the most talked about stories of petty theft in Los Angeles this year. And by “petty theft” we don’t mean the stealing of an item that’s of trivial monetary value. We’re talking about the theft of legendary rocker Tom Petty’s property – specifically, five guitars that he and his band-mates have used over the years that, collectively, are valued at $100,000.
The rockers’ guitars were pilfered from a soundstage in Culver City. They included some of the most treasured instruments from the glory days of rock, including Tom’s own blonde 1967 maple 12-strong Rickenbacker. The band put out a reward for information that would lead to the return of the guitars – a whopping $7,500. Some lucky person presumably collected that.
In the “unlucky” category, we must file 51-year-old Daryl Emmette Washington. A security guard who worked at the lot where Petty’s guitars were stolen, Washington allegedly sold one of the guitars to a pawnshop in Hollywood for just $250. This “red flag” alerted police, who ultimately arrested Washington and collected the missing instruments. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had been rehearsing for a new tour – Tom was actually in Denver when news of the successful guitar recovery broke.
This was obviously very good news for the band. But what about Mr. Washington? What happens to someone who is arrested and convicted for petty theft in Los Angeles (or not so petty theft a.k.a. grand theft in Los Angeles)?
The answer is not so cut and dry.
Depending on what was stolen, whether other crimes were committed, whether the alleged thief had a criminal history, and whether the evidence of the theft is strong or weak, prosecutors might take a variety of angles against you. In a worst case scenario, you could wind up serving several years behind bars, paying enormous amounts of money in restitution and penalties and fees, and suffering permanent damage not only to your professional reputation but also to your relationships and psyche.
Even if you are only convicted of a minor crime – shoplifting some T-shirts or some food, for instance – the conviction can stain your record and set you up for extreme legal trouble if/when you ever get arrested and convicted again. If you are convicted for two Los Angeles petty theft counts within, say, seven years of each other, the second offense can actually be treated as a felony. Here’s what that means: if you shoplift twice, you can become a convicted felon and face over a year behind bars.
To build an appropriate, smart, and strategic legal response, connect with a Los Angeles petty theft attorney at the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a highly regarded, well-respected, and well-connected lawyer who has worked as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer. He can help with any Southern California white collar criminal defense.