Andrew M Jennings Attorney at Law
Andrew M Jennings Attorney at Law
thief trying to break open a door

Santa Maria Theft Attorney

Choose the best Santa Maria theft attorney

Major robbery and embezzlement cases all the way down to Santa Maria petty theft can have serious consequences.  Even if you don’t face prison for the conviction, the criminal record can impact your quality of life.  It could make it very hard to find employment, a place to rent, negatively affect your immigration status, prevent you from running for office, end your hard-earned career, prevent you from owning firearms, tarnish your reputation, and ruin relationships.

If you have been charged with theft, you may feel overwhelmed and stressed over what to do next, and how to keep living your life.  I have a lot of experience defending people just like you and don’t think you should have to feel this way.  Although it’s natural to feel those things, many feel much better when they call me because I give them real answers, and care about them.

To get real answers so you can feel a sense of closure, I offer a no-pressure no-obligation phone call at 805-688-9217.  The call is meant to see if a consultation will best serve you.  Call today to get the help you need.

Santa Maria theft attorney Andrew Jennings’ qualifications

  • Handled petty to grand theft, shoplifting, embezzlement, burglary, and robbery with and without firearms.
  • Handled almost 5,000 cases from misdemeanors to murder.
  • I am familiar with the Santa Maria courts.
  • Great communication to help you fully understand the process.

What people are saying about Andrew Jennings

William Redell, Santa Maria Criminal Attorney:

“As a Defense Attorney, I can say without any reservation at all, Mr. Jennings provides outstanding service. I would not hesitate to contact Mr. Jennings (and often do) with questions and advice regarding any legal issue. He's the attorney, attorneys turn to when they have questions and need sound legal advice.  Thanks for all your help over the years - you make me proud of our profession” (5-star Google Review)

Lucio Uribe:

“Andrew has helped answer all my legal questions in a fast timely fashion, I would advise all to reach out to Andrew if in need of legal representation or advice!!! Thank you Andrew for always being available”(5-star Google Review)

Becky Bendele:

“Andrew delivers excellent, professional, and knowledgeable representation. He is respectful and always responds in a timely manner.” (5-star Google Review)

My agreement with you

I agree to:

  1. Skillfully defend you,
  2. treat you with dignity and respect, 
  3. guide you every step of the way.

The risks of not calling a Santa Maria theft attorney

Risk of a criminal record

A misdemeanor for petty theft on your record can have disastrous consequences like trouble finding jobs, renting apartments, and social stigma.  And crimes like grand theft, embezzlement and robbery can carry prison sentences.  If you are being tried in Santa Barbara county or Santa Maria you want a theft attorney who knows those courts and judges.  An attorney like that can better predict case outcomes and defend your side of the story.

Risk of wasted time

By not making a free no-obligation call to a Santa Maria theft attorney you may risk wasting time.  The internet can only tell you general things about your case.  You need someone familiar with criminal law to guide you.

Risk of feeling worse than you need to

You could be feeling more hopeful about your future.  Many who call me feel better than they did before the call.  That’s because I sympathize with their situation and tell it like it is so you receive closure.

A Santa Maria theft order attorney who understands your situation

It’s intimidating, stressful, and overwhelming to face theft charges.  If you have been charged with theft, I deeply sympathize with you.  It throws a wrench in your life, making it hard to ever enjoy yourself.  I don’t think you should have to feel that way.  For that reason, I offer you a free no-obligation call to determine what is best for you.  For the best case outcome, you should find a qualified Santa Maria theft attorney as soon as possible.  If you wait too long you could miss out on opportunities for reducing or potentially dropping your charges.

Why go with a top theft attorney in Santa Maria?

Lots of trial experience

You can rest easy knowing I’ve defended thousands of people in court, and have a good track record.

Legal community knowledge

Since I’m on a first-name basis with the judges in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara county, you get peace of mind that I can best present your side of the case.


You won’t have to worry about feeling confused.  I explain everything clearly and return all calls within 24 hours.

Aggressive Defense

You can feel confident knowing I will passionately defend you.

The three-step theft defense plan

1. We make a plan

Let’s say you feel I am the right person to defend you after your free call.  If you want to move forward to a consultation, you receive options on how to proceed, the pros and cons of each, which I think would be the best fit for you, and then let you decide.

2. Theft Defense

When you decide which option feels right for you, we implement the plan.  That means I will passionately defend you in court.  Along the way, you will receive clear instructions and answers to any questions you may have.

3. Theft case closed

Although I cannot guarantee a specific outcome for your case, I will fight hard for its best possible outcome.

Santa Maria theft attorney pricing

In order to get you the best possible outcome, potentially save you from prison, fines, loss of business licenses, and a devastating criminal record I charge a flat fee.  If finances are a concern for you, I do everything I can to offer you a payment plan that fits your budget.

The Santa Maria California courthouse

The Santa Maria courthouse is a part of the Santa Barbara Superior Courts. You can find it at 312 E Cook St C.  If you need to call the courthouse, be aware that their office hours are between 9AM and 12PM, and their phone hours between 9AM and 3PM at the time of this writing.  The court’s phone number is (805) 614-6414.

How to Get ahold of Santa Maria theft attorney Andrew Jennings

You can reach me by calling 805-688-9217 or by email on this website.

Call today to avoid missed opportunities that could help your case

Santa Maria theft attorney Frequently Asked Questions

Theft in California

What is the difference between grand and petty theft in California?
Theft in California is when someone takes something that doesn’t belong to them with the intent to steal (Penal Code 484A). Taking something on accident thinking it is yours isn’t theft. But, making a plan to steal something and actually stealing something is theft. Examples of theft are robbing a bank, shoplifting and embezzlement.
Some crimes sound like theft but may actually be different - like burglary. That’s because some burglars don’t succeed in taking something, but have the intent to burgle.
Punishment for theft depends on the value of the property taken, whether force was involved in the theft, where the theft occurred (commercial or residential building), the presence of accomplices, if the victim was present, and any prior convictions. Punishment for grand theft can result in a 3-year sentence.
Grand theft (Penal Code 487) typically involves stealing something worth more than $950 or sometimes less depending on the type of thing stolen. For example, you could steal a car, firearm, certain crops or animals valued less than $950 but still be guilty of grand theft (Penal Code 487b). It may also be grand theft if the item is stolen from the victim’s person - for instance taking something someone is currently wearing or carrying like a watch, purse, or wallet (Penal code 487C).
What is petty theft in California?
In most cases, stealing property valued less than $950 is petty theft in California. Penal code 487 describes grand theft which is typically theft in excess of $950, and Penal Code 488 says that “theft in other cases in petty theft.” Petty theft is also called a minor theft offense. An example of petty theft is “borrowing” a neighbor’s $400 lawn mower with no intention of returning it.
Petty theft could also be tricking someone (called false pretenses) into giving you something they otherwise wouldn’t (Penal Code 532). For example, someone who takes an item off of a store shelf and asks for a refund for the item. They pretend to have purchased the item, hoping the cashier will give them the value of the item.
Another form of petty theft is embezzlement (Penal Code 503). Unlike the two examples above, embezzlement occurs when property is entrusted to someone. For example, a cashier pocketing money from a cash register is embezzlement. The cashier was entrusted with the money.
What is the punishment for petty theft in California?
If you are convicted of petty theft in California, you may need to pay restitution (usually money) to the person or entity you stole from, go on probation, pay a fine, and face up to 6 months in county jail. However, in some cases, petty theft cases don’t go to court. The person charged with petty theft is offered something called diversion instead.

California diversion programs

How does the diversion program work in California?
A diversion program is a program some are eligible to take instead of seeing the court case through to the end. It’s called a diversion program because it diverts your case away from the court. You don’t even need to enter a guilty plea to do diversion. The goal of the program is to provide you the treatment and help you may need. As a side benefit, diversion decreases the burden of cases on the court system. Your case will be dropped after successful completion of diversion, and nothing pertaining to your case will go on your record.
Everyone the court deems eligible for diversion may participate. Those charged with non-violent crimes (like petty theft and illegal drug possession) tend to be eligible for diversion. Also, those who have no prior criminal record have a better chance of eligibility. The less severe the charge of theft, the more likely diversion may be an option.
How does the diversion program work in California?
A diversion program is a program some are eligible to take instead of seeing the court case through to the end. It’s called a diversion program because it diverts your case away from the court. You don’t even need to enter a guilty plea to do diversion. The goal of the program is to provide you the treatment and help you may need. As a side benefit, diversion decreases the burden of cases on the court system. Your case will be dropped after successful completion of diversion, and nothing pertaining to your case will go on your record.
Everyone the court deems eligible for diversion may participate. Those charged with non-violent crimes (like petty theft and illegal drug possession) tend to be eligible for diversion. Also, those who have no prior criminal record have a better chance of eligibility. The less severe the charge of theft, the more likely diversion may be an option.
How long is a diversion program in California?
On average, diversion programs can be anywhere from one to two years long. There are several different kinds of programs that may have different program lengths. For example drug, mental health, and military diversion programs are available.
What is a drug diversion program?
According to Penal Code 1000 drug diversion is a rehabilitation and counseling program. If you are charged with possession, but not selling drugs, you have a good chance of being eligible for the program. Selling drugs is more severe and may disqualify you from this program. A probation officer may be called in as well to determine whether drug diversion is appropriate.
Drug diversion programs are at least a year long, but no more than a year and a half. You may be required to pay a drug diversion restitution fee to participate - between $100 and $1000 - depending on your ability to pay and the severity of the charges.
How long is mental health diversion in California?
Another treatment program, mental health diversion, cannot go longer than 2 years. You would most likely be eligible for this program if you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, the disorder may have played a role in the crime, and you would benefit from the treatment. The types of mental health disorders most eligible for this treatment are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and schizoaffective disorder.
The best evidence of such disorders is a positive evaluation by a mental health professional. They can evaluate your history and behavior to determine if you have any of those disorders previously mentioned.
There is a cost for the mental health diversion program, but public entities sometimes pay for the treatment.
Military Diversion
If you are a California Veteran or on active duty you may qualify for military diversion. However, there’s no guarantee that you are eligible. The crime for which you are charged needs to be linked to some effect of being in the military.
For example, if you have a mental health disorder as a result of military service and commit a crime, you stand a better chance of being eligible for military diversion. On the other hand, if you have no record of mental health disorders, no PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance abuse, or sexual trauma as a result of military service that can be linked to the crime, you might not be eligible.
If you qualify for military diversion and agree to the program, successful completion means you will avoid jail time and have your charges dismissed.
For more information on military diversion see Penal Code 1001.80.

Shoplifting in California

What is shoplifting in California?
According to Penal Code 459.5, shoplifting is having the intent to steal something worth less than $950 before entering a commercial establishment during business hours. A person doesn’t even need to succeed in taking something for it to be shoplifting. What’s required is the intent to steal something worth less than $950 prior to entering the establishment during business hours.
If someone doesn’t have the intent prior to entering the commercial establishment to steal, but after, it may however still count as shoplifting.
What happens if you get caught shoplifting in California?
Shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction if the value of the thing someone intends to steal is $50 or less. If charged as a misdemeanor, you could face county jail time up to 6 months and/or a $1000 fine, or probation instead of jail time. But, a Penal Code 459.5 conviction does not result in deportation, and generally doesn’t have negative immigration consequences. It may also be possible to have the conviction expunged (taken off your record) by completing jail time or probation. That way it will be much easier to find employment.
How do you defend against shoplifting charges in California?
If you are charged with shoplifting, you may have several options depending on the facts of the case: civil compromise, pretrial diversion program, statute of limitations, or a mistake of fact.
  • Civil Compromise
    A civil compromise typically means paying the victim back the value of what you took in return for dismissed charges. However, this defense is unlikely in a theft case, and usually goes toward hit-and-run offenses.
  • Pretrial Diversion
    A pretrial diversion program includes the programs previously discussed such as drug, mental health, and military diversion.
  • Statute of Limitatons
    If someone charges you with shoplifting where the purported event occurred a year or more in the past the Statute of Limitations (SOL) might be used as a defense. A prosecutor, a person bringing a charge against you, may only file within one year of the shoplifting offense. For misdemeanors like shoplifting the time period is one year, whereas felonies are three years.
  • Mistake of Fact
    A mistake of fact is the defense that you didn’t have the intent to steal. For example, if someone drops their sweatshirt on the ground in a store, and picks another one up off the ground belonging to the store thinking it’s theirs, that could be a mistake of fact defense. The person thought the sweatshirt belonged to them, not the store.
    Whether by civil compromise, diversion, SOL, or mistake of fact your charges may be dismissed and not go on your record.

Burglary and Robbery in California

What is considered burglary and robbery in California?
Burglary and robbery may sound like the same thing, but according to California law they are two different things. These crimes are more severe than petty theft.
Burglary generally is about the intention to steal something whether successful or not, whereas robbery involves actually taking something. And unlike burglary, robbery (PC 211) is more of a violent crime involving force or threats to take something. Burglary on the other hand typically happens without interaction between the victim and burglar.
An example of California robbery
A classic example of robbery would be someone robbing a bank with a gun. The robber threatens the bank workers at gunpoint and forcibly takes the money.
An example of California burglary
Burglary for example could be breaking into a commercial building after hours and stealing merchandise. The stolen property is not in the immediate presence of the victims, nor are there any physical threats or violence against the victim’s person.
What is first and second-degree burglary in California?
The degree of burglary can depend on the type of structure and people present according to California Penal Code 459. If someone commits burglary in a residential structure, it’s first-degree burglary. And if the victim is present (person present) during the burglary, it’s also first-degree. A person present allegation attached to a residential burglary charge elevates the strike offense from serious to violent - a prison sentence would be served at 85% instead of 50%. All other structures where that crime is committed count as second-degree burglary.
What is the punishment for first and second-degree burglary in California?
First-degree burglary is a felony and results in a sentence between 2 and 6 years in prison. As second-degree burglary is less severe than first-degree, it is a wobbler - a crime that could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Sentences for second-degree burglary range from a year in county jail to 3 years depending on whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
How to beat a burglary charge in California?
The most common defenses of burglary fall under three topics:
  1. You were mistaken for someone else who actually committed the crime (mistaken identity).
  2. You either believed the items you took belonged to you (mistake of fact/claim of right)
  3. You intended to steal the items only after you entered the building, but not before (lack of intent)
Mistaken Identity
Perhaps you by coincidence look like the person who committed burglary or share the same name. Another possibility is that someone is falsely accusing you out of spite or revenge.
Mistake of fact/claim of right
If you believed you owned the item you took or that you had permission to take the item, that could likely be used as a defense.
Lack of intent
If you didn’t intend to steal the item that could be used as a defense. Let’s say someone enters a building only with the intent of returning something. However, once inside the building they see a wallet lying on a counter. Then they take it and walk outside the building. Since the person didn’t intend to steal anything prior to entering the building, this could be used as a defense against burglary. However, taking the wallet may be a different crime.

Robbery In California

What is first and second-degree robbery in California?
Unlike burglary, robbery has a forceful or violent element to it. First-degree robbery typically includes robbing someone while the victim is operating a vehicle, inside a dwelling (like a house), or near an ATM machine (PC 212.5).
Second-degree robbery is robbery in all other cases besides first-degree (PC 212.5).
How much time do you get for robbery in California?
Because robbery is violent and always a felony (whether first or second-degree), it can result in sentences of 2 - 9 years in state prison. The severity of the sentence depends on whether the robbery is first-degree or second-degree (PC 212.5).
If robbery is first-degree and committed in concert (with an accomplice) or in a dwelling, the punishment could be 9 years in prison. But other cases of first-degree robbery could be a 6 year sentence.
However, if the robbery is second-degree, the sentence could be up to 5 years in state prison.
Is Estes Robbery a felony in California?
An Estes Robbery is a felony that can result in a prison sentence of between 2 and 5 years depending on the facts of the case. The more violent the force involved in the crime generally the longer the sentence.
Estes Robberies start out as petty theft, but then become robbery. The robbery is named after the court case People vs. Estes. Estes walked into a Sears store, put on one of their coats, and walked out of the store without paying. Then, when a security guard tried to stop Estes, Estes threatened him with a knife.
This kind of robbery occurs when someone steals something from a store, but someone tries to stop them - like an employee or loss prevention. If the thief uses force to try to get away, then what was petty theft becomes robbery because of the use of force.
What are defenses of robbery in California?
Defending against robbery involves showing that some or all of the conditions of robbery aren’t met. Facts that could show the conditions aren’t met include: no force or fear was involved, you believed the item belonged to you, you weren’t properly identified, or were falsely accused.
No force or fear robbery defense
If there wasn’t force or fear involved in taking something, that could mean it wasn’t a robbery. Pickpocketing in California for example isn’t robbery as the light touching of the victim doesn’t qualify as force or fear. Pickpocketing is however grand theft because of how the property was taken - from the person of another (Penal Code 487C)
Claim of right robbery defense
If you really believed what you took belonged to you, this may be used as a defense against robbery. Even if the item isn’t technically your property, this may still be a defense.
However, there is an exception. If someone owes you money, it wouldn’t be a defense to say you took money out of their wallet or some object of a similar value to settle the debt. If the item you took was part of settling a debt, it won’t count as a defense against robbery. It has to be for some other reason.
Mistaken identity robbery defense
Sometimes robbers wear masks or make it hard for others to identify them. If the robber is difficult to identify, it may be worth using the mistaken identity defense. Perhaps you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, and someone mistook you for the robber.
Falsely accused robbery defense
Sometimes people falsely accuse others of robbery. This could happen if someone has a prejudice or seeks revenge against you.

White Collar Crimes in California

What are white collar crimes in California?
Penal Code 186.11 makes it clear that fraud and embezzlement count as white collar crimes. Other examples of white collar crime include identity theft (California Civil Code 1786c), check, ATM, and credit fraud by computer or some other electronic means (PC 13848b(1)).

Embezzlement in California

What does embezzlement mean in simple terms?
Embezzlement (503 PC) in California occurs when someone unlawfully uses something that was entrusted to them. This differs from robbery and burglary where the items were never entrusted to the burglar or robber. Conditions of embezzlement are that the embezzler was entrusted with the victim’s property, the embezzler doesn’t believe they have a right to that property, and intended and fraudulently deprived the victim of it.
What are examples of embezzlement?
Common examples of embezzlement in California could be a cashier pocketing money from a cash register for a night out, or an accountant fraudulently taking money to pay off a gambling debt. It can also happen outside of an employee-employer relationship. For example, if a neighbor lends someone their car and the car isn’t returned. Depending on the facts, that could be embezzlement.
What are examples of white collar embezzlement?
White collar crimes are non-violent financial crimes like embezzlement and fraud. In the financial world, Bernie Madoff embezzled billions of dollars using a Ponzi scheme. Likewise, the company Enron embezzled billions of dollars by cooking the books (misreporting their financial statements) and making up an energy crisis.
What are the different types of embezzlement?
There are two broad categories of embezzlement - grand and petty theft embezzlement - and several types that can fall under those. Whether embezzlement is grand or petty theft generally depends on the amount stolen. If it’s more than $950, it’s generally grand theft. Otherwise, it’s generally petty theft. And the types of embezzlement that can fall under grand or petty theft include but are not limited to siphoning, lapping, and payroll.
Ponzi Scheme Embezzlement
Bernie Madoff committed embezzlement with the largest Ponzi scheme of all time - embezzling billions of dollars. By comparison, the very person after whom the scheme is named, Charles Ponzi, may have embezzled about 15 million.
Bernie first made a name for himself by becoming the chair of NASDAQ in 1990. When investors gave Bernie money, he would put the money in a bank account instead of an investment. Then, when an investor would want their investment back, Bernie would pay the investor with money from the bank account. As long as Bernie found new investors to pay the old ones, he could keep the Ponzi scheme going. The ponzi scheme may have gone on for about 17 years.
However, the truth eventually caught up to Bernie when more investors cashed in their investments than the bank account could handle. He finally confessed to the scheme, was sentenced to 150 years in prison, and died in prison at the age of 82.
Siphoning embezzlement
Siphoning money is stealing money before it is registered. For instance, a cashier could be taking customer money from the cash register while registering incorrect daily totals to cover their tracks.
Lapping embezzlement
Some people who handle both incoming checks and crediting customer accounts commit lapping. It can happen at churches, corporations, or small businesses. To lap money, someone skims or takes money from customers or patrons before it enters the accounting system. Let’s say a patient pays $3000 for a root canal. The person in charge of the money could take that money for themself.
However, the owner of the business as well as the money lapper (embezzler) knows the customer owed $3000. If the money does not show up in the business account, the embezzler (the person lapping) could get found out. To prevent the owner from knowing the $3000 is missing, the embezzler takes money from another customer and credits it towards the “missing” $3000. In other words, the business actually gets the $3000, but it’s being paid by another customer. The embezzler will have to redistribute money repeatedly to cover their tracks.
Payroll fraud embezzlement
Payroll fraud, another kind of embezzlement, happens when an employee tricks an employer to pay for fictional things like fictional employees, work hours, bonuses, or other things. It’s easier for an employee to do this when they are in charge of money.
If the company is large with thousands of employees, the embezzler could invent employees and pay “their” salary from company funds. In reality, the money paid to those fictional employees goes to the embezzler. The company’s large size may make it hard to detect fictional employees. As such, creating fictional bonuses may pass unnoticed as well.
When it comes to smaller businesses, payroll fraud could happen by claiming fictional work hours. This can happen when there is no time clock to keep track of time spent at work.

Fraud in California

How fraud differs from embezzlement in California
The difference has to do with trust. Trust is not a condition of fraud, but it is for embezzlement. Fraud generally is when someone uses deceit or a trick to get something that doesn’t belong to them which causes harm or loss to the victim. Fraud can happen without the element of trust for example in internet fraud: the victim typically doesn’t know the criminal. If fraud is committed without an element of trust, it’s not embezzlement. But, for someone to embezzle they must commit fraud by deceiving someone out of their possessions. So, all embezzlement is fraud, but not all fraud is embezzlement.
What are examples of white collar fraud crimes?
There are many types of white collar fraud crimes. We will look at some common forms of fraud like check kiting, internet fraud, and money laundering.
Check kiting
Imagine someone named Tom has two bank accounts at two different banks. The first bank, Wells Fargo, has $1000, and the second bank Schwab has $500. To check kite, Tom writes a check for $8000 from Wells Fargo to deposit in Schwab in excess of his Wells Fargo balance of $1000 ($7000 in excess). When Tom deposits the $8000 check at Schwab, he is hoping it will take Schwab some time to figure out if he really has the $8000 in the Wells Fargo account.
If Schwab allows Tom to use $7000 of the $8000 check before it clears, Tom will have embezzled $6000. That’s because Tom keeps $7000, but $1000 is deducted from his Wells Fargo account once Schwab realizes Tom has embezzled ($7000 - $1000 = $6000).
Check kiting relies on check clearing delays and banks giving money before checks clear. If there is no check clearing delay, Schwab would know immediately if the funds are available and likely prevent Tom from having the $7000.
Internet Fraud
There are many forms of internet fraud, but a common form is email fraud. This is when someone sends or intercepts emails without permission in order to deprive someone of something by deception.
Email spoofing
Email spoofing for example is a kind of email fraud where a hacker forges the sender address of an email so that it looks like it came from a legitimate business - like a bank. Then they send emails to people who use that bank with the forged sender address. When a customer opens the email, they may believe the forged email really came from their bank. These spoofed emails typically request PII or personally identifiable information like names, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. If a customer is tricked into providing this information, the hacker can sell the information or use it to steal the customers’ money.
Man-in-the-middle attack (MITM)
Another kind of email fraud is called a man-in-the-middle attack (MITM for short). This happens when email between two parties is intercepted and modified. The bank thinks they are speaking with a customer, and the customer thinks they are speaking with the bank. However, their messages are being filtered or completely changed by the hacker. Hackers can do this to trick both the bank and the customers to divulge sensitive information.
Internet Fraud Penalties
Internet fraud carries serious consequences. Depending on factors like the information or amount stolen, number and identity of victims, prior offenses, whether it is a federal and/or state crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, an offender could face fines and/or 6 months to 20 years in prison. Generally speaking, the more damage caused by internet fraud the more severe the punishment.
Money Laundering
According to California Penal Code 186.10, making a financial transaction with a certain amount of money from illegal activity in a financial institution while A. knowing the money came from illegal activity or B. with the intent of furthering illegal activity is money laundering.
An example of money laundering could be taking $10,000 from illegal drug sales and depositing it in a US bank. If the person depositing the money knows the money came from illegal activity, it is money laundering. However, if the person doesn’t know the money came from illegal activity and doesn’t intend to further illegal activity with the money, it isn’t money laundering.
Let’s say Bill made $20,000 selling meth. Samantha, Bill’s girlfriend, doesn’t know Bill sells meth. One day, Bill asks Samantha to deposit the $20,000 claiming the money came from selling a car. When Samantha deposits the money at the bank, she is not guilty of money laundering from a mistake of fact - she thought the money came from a legal sale, not illegal activity.
Penalties for money laundering in California
The penalty for money laundering depends on the amount laundered and prior convictions. Generally speaking, the more money laundered the more severe the punishment and vice versa. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges resulting in a jail sentence of up to 4 years.
Defenses against money laundering charges in California
Defenses of money laundering are A. no criminal intent, B. deposit amount too small and C. constitutional rights violations. If you transacted money without criminal intent, knowing neither that the money came from illegal activity nor intended the money to further criminal activity, that is a defense.
Or, if the money you transacted is less than $5000, that is not enough money to classify the crime as money laundering.
And, if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights like failing to read your Miranda rights, coercing you into a confession, using unlawful search and seizure, or arresting you without probable cause in the course of finding evidence of money laundering, that is also a defense.

Your Santa Maria theft attorney near you

If you have been charged with theft or other related crimes I understand how you feel.  A theft conviction can result in all kinds of hardships like difficulty finding jobs, social stigma, immigration consequences, and a criminal record.  But you don’t have to fight the charges on your own.  I want the best possible outcome for your case, and fight hard for you.

Give me a call today to speak with someone who truly cares about you and your situation.  Call me now at 805-688-9217.

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