Call for a Free Consultation Salinas: 831.269.5353 Monterey: 831.273.3152
Committed Criminal Defense Team Focused On Your Freedom

Salinas Theft & Property Crimes Lawyer

Theft Defense in Monterey & the Surrounding Counties

Crimes against property, codified in Title 13 of the California Penal Code, include many common offenses that relate to theft or destruction of, or interference with, someone else’s property, including public property. These crimes can range from low-level misdemeanors to general felonies, and in some situations, even serious or violent strikes, such as residential burglary or robbery.

The consequences for property crime conviction are serious. Call (831) 273-3152 or contact online today to start planning your defense with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Salinas, CA.

Misdemeanor or Felony

Whether a particular property crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on a variety of factors. Some property crimes are statutorily defined as either misdemeanors or felonies, while many others are “wobblers” and can be prosecuted as either, depending on factors such as the total loss or damage amount, circumstances of the crime, and defendant’s criminal record, to name a few.

Classification of a crime as a misdemeanor or a felony can have significant consequences for the defendant. If you are only charged with a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence for most property offenses is either 6 months or one year, whereas a conviction for a felony property crime could carry a lengthy sentence in the local jail, or in the state prison.

What Is the Difference Between General and Specific Intent?

One of the common issues that arise in defending property crimes is whether or not the person who had committed the offense acted with required criminal intent or mental state. The two types of criminal intent commonly disputed in these cases are general intent and specific intent:

  • General intent property crimes, such as vandalism, require the government to prove not only that the defendant had committed a prohibited act, but that he or she had done so willfully and intentionally, or in other words, non-accidentally. (See Penal Code 594(a); CALCRIM
  • Specific intent property crimes require the government to prove not only that the defendant had committed an intentional act, but that he or she did so with some additional specific intent specified by the statute, usually intent to steal, or intent to commit some further felony.

If the government cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with required intent or mental state, the defendant is entitled to an acquittal.

Mental Illness, Intoxication, and Organic Brain Trauma

Because so many property crimes require proof of specific intent, it is important to be represented by an attorney who understands factors that can impair or negate the formation of that cognitive state of mind. Severe intoxication, mental disorder, disability, and/or organic brain damage may result in a person committing an act without having the required intent or mental state. Accordingly, these conditions need to be thoroughly investigated by the attorney, corroborated by expert witness testimony when necessary, and effectively presented to the court or jury.

Is Robbery a Property Crime?

In California, robbery is considered a property crime another with theft and burglary. Robbery is different from theft because robbery requires forcibly taking property from someone whereas theft doesn't require interpersonal interaction.

Robberies are always charged as either first or second degree felonies, and the penalty for robbery can be up to nine years in prison.

Civil Compromise for Property Crimes

In misdemeanor cases involving theft or damage of property, it is often possible to avoid a criminal conviction by compensating the wronged or injured party and requesting the court, in its discretion, to dismiss the action upon receipt of the victim’s acknowledgment that he or she has been fully satisfied. By statute, this creative remedy does not require the agreement of the District Attorney, often allowing a skilled practitioner to bypass a prosecutor who is refusing to reduce or dismiss a criminal charge.

Even if civil compromise as a remedy is not available to you based on the type of charge, often it may be possible to negotiate a plea to a less serious offense or a reduced sentence in exchange of payment of restitution.

We Are Well-Experienced in Property Crime Defense

At Law Offices of William V. Pernik, clients work with a skilled property crimes defense attorney who has with tremendous experience in the Salinas court. Mr. Pernik’s trial record includes acquittals on many property crime charges, such as theft, residential burglary, robbery, and more. In many other cases, he has been able to negotiate a reduction of felony charges to misdemeanors, misdemeanor charges to infractions, and outright dismissals in several other cases.

If you or your loved one is accused of committing a property crime, do not wait until it is too late to get help. Call our office today at (831) 273-3152 to schedule your free initial consultation.

The Opinions That Matter

See What Our Client Have To Say
  • “I found myself in a very tough situation and Mr. Pernik first of all was straight forward with me he was honest and all around very knowledgeable on what to do in regards to my case. He offered me peace of mind and got me through a very tough stage”


  • “Mr. William Pernik is extremely intelligent and caring with his clients. Not a very easy combination to find in a lawyer. He looks at all the options for the best possible fair and just outcome in a case.”


  • “Roland listened to me, asked appropriate questions and provided me with the information that I needed in order to make an informed decision.”

    Chris m.

  • “Good friend and attorney - if you are in trouble, take my word: he's good.”

    Justin C.

  • “I was fighting a DUI prison case. Those cases are usually very black and white for judges. Mr. Pernik guided me in the right direction so my case turned out very beneficial for me. His statements are very well put together.”

    Avvo Reviewer

  • “William was very friendly and checked on the status of my file for free.”

    Ba C.

  • “I must say Mr. William Pernik is an exemplary exception to this rule. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Mr. Pernik and his professionalism as an attorney and his compassion for his client's rights.”

    Yelp Reviewer

  • “If you want solid representation from someone who is non-judgmental and has your back, look no further.”

    Annia R.

  • “I hope not to need a criminal lawyer again soon but it's nice to know where to find a good one!!”

    Steven M.

  • “He is an active listener, dedicated to his profession and his community.”

    J TD T.

  • “Not only did he fight for the best outcome for me, but he also was available to answer my questions 24-7. I felt very protected and calm when Mr. Pernik would enter the court room”

    Avvo Reviewer

  • “Mr. Pernik has so much compassion for his clients, his integrity is beyond approach.”

    Jacqueline W.

  • “Mr. Pernik really took the time to know me personally he understood my situation. He genuinely wanted to help me during a difficult time in my life. He fought for me in court to modify my sentence.”

    Avvo Reviewer

  • “If you are smart enough to find William and pick him for your attorney, the outcome will be the best you could possibly hope for.”

    K F.

  • “I felt like he understood the stress me and my family were going through and held our hand through the process”

    Alex F.