California Penal Code Section 487j PC: Grand Theft Of Copper Materials

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimecopper theft

As a result of the recent foreclosure crisis, many houses fell into foreclosure and were effectively abandoned by their owners. In many cases, homes become stripped of any items that may be considered valuable. This includes the copper piping and other materials that can be sold to scrap dealers for a sizable profit. However, grand theft of copper materials is a criminal offense under California Penal Code Section 487j PC, and conviction can result in lengthy prison sentences.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of grand theft of copper materials, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant stole or maliciously took or carried away copper materials of another, including but not limited to copper wire, copper cable, copper tubing and copper piping.

  2. AND the value of the copper materials taken exceeded $950.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Grand TheftCalifornia Penal Code Section 487 PC
  2. Petty TheftCalifornia Penal Code Section 484 PC
  3. Burglary - California Penal Code Section 459 PC
3. Examples

A man knows that no one has lived in the house next door to his for several years and that the property is currently in foreclosure and owned by the bank. While the house is vacant, the man realizes that it is an older house that is filled with copper piping. The man goes into the house and removes all the copper piping in order to sell it to a local scrap dealer. The value of the copper removed is approximately $2000. This man could be charged with grand theft of copper materials in violation of California Penal Code Section 487j PC. He could also be charged with burglary in violation of California Penal Code Section 459 PC, because he entered the other residence with the intent to commit grand theft.

In another example, a man works at a manufacturing plant that often uses copper wire in many of its products. The plant maintains a large supply of copper wiring for use in day to day manufacturing. The man realizes that every day there is leftover copper wiring that goes unused. The man takes this excess material in order to sell it to a scrap metal dealer. The total value of the copper wiring taken exceeds $950. This man could be charged with grand theft of copper materials. In addition, he could be prosecuted for embezzlement in violation of California Penal Code Section 503 PC because he unlawfully misappropriated property that belonged to his employer that had been entrusted to him.

4. Defenses to Grand Theft of Copper Materials

In order for a person to be criminally liable for grand theft of copper materials, the copper taken must have actually belonged to someone else. There are many cases where homes, appliances or other items containing copper material are abandoned by their owners. In these cases, it would not be illegal for someone else to remove the copper components. However, in many cases what may seem to be abandoned property may actually be owned by a distant relative, creditor or the bank. In these cases, a defendant could still be charged with grand theft of copper materials, as the property taken did belong to someone else.

5. Penalties

Grand theft of copper materials is a “wobbler” offense. This means that a prosecutor can charge this offense as either a felony or a misdemeanor. When determining what level of charges to file, prosecutors will consider a wide array of factors, including the amount of loss incurred, the defendant’s criminal history, and the level of criminal sophistication displayed. If charged as a felony, the maximum penalty that a defendant can receive is three years in prison. If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence would be a year in county jail. In either case, the defendant would be expected to pay restitution to the victim for any loss incurred as a result of the crime.

6. Criminal Defense for Grand Theft of Copper Materials Cases

If you have been charged with grand theft of copper materials, or are under investigation for this crime, it is crucial to meet with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively defend those charged with all varieties of theft offenses. In many cases, Mr. Kraut’s early involvement in a case while it is still being investigated can be critical in the case being rejected or significantly reduced.

For more information about grand theft of copper materials, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Client Reviews
He gave me the peace of mind that my DUI case was going to be resolved. He fought for what it was needed and helped me by answering all my questions. Mike is not an average attorney. He’s a very experienced, honest and straightforward person that is there for you!
I hired Attorney Mike Kraut and I'm am so happy and grateful that I did! I was arrested for a DUI because my BAC level was over the .08 limit. I ended up getting a wet and reckless instead of a DUI. I still have to do some classes and I'm on probation, but I do not have a DUI on my record. If you have a DUI hire Attorney Kraut, he definitely knows his stuff!
Avvo User
There aren't enough positive words to write about Mike, but let me be clear that this is the only lawyer worth hiring in Los Angeles. Mike is professional, caring, and an absolute champion at winning in court.
Kyle, Avvo User
Mike Kraut is not a typical lawyer. He is a straightforward person with a true heart and a sympathetic ear. He is also smart and connected and he cares about the people who seek out his help. He got my son out of a jam. He did it quickly and painlessly. I recommend Mike Kraut to anyone that needs his services.
Thank you Mike for helping my son.
Mark, Avvo User
Michael Kraut is a rock star lawyer. I was really happy and satisfied with the results I received from Michael and his team. A few months back I was being accused of a serious felony. Mike gave me sound legal advice and worked diligently to clear my name. Mike was great at always keeping me updated and returning calls. Great, great lawyer I cant say enough about this man!
Eric, Google User
How can I express how relieved and pleased I am with Michael's professional abilities to have my Felony brought down to a misdameanor to a possible dismissal with deferment. With his care my life has been turned around and cannot say how helpful he's been not only in my case but life. He, himself has changed how I view criminal lawyers. Thank you so much Michael!
Owen, Google User