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New Bill Would Target Package Thieves

April 3, 2019

The offense could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor

New Bill Would Target Package Thieves

In recent years, more people than ever before have come to rely on online retailers for everything from holiday shopping to stocking up on their daily necessities. In turn, this has spawned a new crime way: package thieves who snag boxes from porches and mailboxes.

This crime has frustrated homeowners so much that one California lawmaker has heeded their complaints with a new bill. Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat from Campbell, has introduced a new bill that would clarify how porch thefts are classified. Under Assembly Bill 1210, porch thefts would now be considered burglaries, regardless of the value of the item taken.

Currently, prosecutors have discretion as to how they charge porch package thefts. They are generally only charged as burglaries, a more serious crime, if the value of the item taken is high. Assembly Bill 1210 would remove that discretion.

According to a criminal attorney Riverside, CA, Assembly Bill 1210 would change the law so that entering the porch or the “curtilage” area of a home (including a porch, doorstep, patio, stoop, driveway, hallway or closed yard) with the intent to steal a package would be the equivalent of entering a home in order to steal a package.

Under the bill, porch package theft would be a wobbler, punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case and the suspect’s criminal history. As a misdemeanor, porch package theft would be punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. As a felony, porch package theft would result in a sentence of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in county jail.

This bill has drawn praise from prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies, who view it as a step in the right direction. Criminal justice reform advocates, however, view it as a way to punish low level offenders harshly without any possibility of mercy.

Assembly Bill 1210 would substantially expand the definition of burglary under California law. Burglary requires more than simply walking onto someone’s property to take something. Instead, a person must enter a building, a room within a building, a locked vehicle or structure, with the intent to commit either a California felony or theft. As a criminal attorney Riverside, CA can explain, taking away the requirement that a person actually enter into a building or a locked vehicle or structure may create a gray area in the law. There are many perfectly legal reasons why a person might approach someone’s porch or curtilage — and this law gives the police room to arrest people who may not be committing any crime.

The Chambers Law Firm represents Californians who have been charged with a range of crimes. We believe that everyone is entitled to a strong defense, and will work with you to help you achieve the best outcome for your case. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled criminal attorney Riverside, CA.

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