Preliminary Hearings in Catalytic Converter Cases

Preliminary Hearings in Catalytic Converter Cases According to the Natural Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter theft claims in California have increased by more than three times between 2021 and 2022. In just 2022, approximately 19,000 catalytic converters were stolen. This increase has been particularly noticeable in Los Angeles, where more than 8,000 catalytic converters have been reportedly stolen in one year alone, and other parts of Southern California. The rise in these types of crimes has led to an increased focus by law enforcement to catch the perpetrators and stop this type of crime from happening, which will inevitably lead to more arrests.

What Can Make Stealing a Catalytic Converter a Felony?

In California, stealing a catalytic converter is a type of theft. California Penal Code section 487(a) can be charged as a felony, grand theft, or misdemeanor, petty theft. Whether stealing a catalytic converter is considered grand theft or petty theft depends on the amount or value of the stolen property. If the theft involves a loss more than $950, it is typically considered a felony. If it is less than that amount, it is a misdemeanor.

As such, to be found guilty of grand/petty theft, for stealing a catalytic converter, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant took the personal property from another (in this case the catalytic converter).
  2. The defendant took that property (the catalytic converter) without the owner’s consent.
  3. When the defendant too the property (the catalytic converter) he or she intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or to remove it from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.


  4. The defendant moved that property, even a small distance, and kept it for a period of time, however, brief.

If charged as a felony, the prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the catalytic converter’s value exceeded nine hundred and fifty dollars ($950).

The Importance of a Preliminary Hearing in Catalytic Converter Cases

The preliminary hearing, which is the major hearing in a felony case where the prosecution is required to present evidence and prove up their case and convince the judge that there is probable cause that the felony occurred. A preliminary hearing is a great opportunity for the defense to highlight the issues and problems with the prosecution’s case.

In catalytic converter cases, the prosecution may have legitimate issues proving that the item was belonged to the other person, that the defendant knowing took the property without the owner’s consent, and that the catalytic converter’s value exceeds $950.

If the prosecution cannot meet its burden to each and every element, the case will be dismissed. If the prosecution cannot prove that the item(s) have a value exceeds $950, the Felony could be reduced to a misdemeanor.

If you or a family member has been charged with or is being investigated for stealing a catalytic converter or any other type of theft crime or other crime in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Ventura County, it is imperative that you hire the best attorney that you can to handle these matters. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut knows how to effectively defend clients who have been accused of felony and misdemeanor theft offenses.

For more information about all types of theft crimes and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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