Looting Law & Defense
PC 463 Crimes
Information on the crime of looting is found at California penal code section 463.
Looting is defined as theft during an emergency. An emergency includes, but is not limited to, any of the following: earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other natural or man-made disaster. A theft is defined as the unlawful taking of another person's property without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the other person of the property.
Looting Laws (PC 463)
PC 463: Every person who commits second-degree burglary (PC 459), during, and within an affected county, in a “state of emergency” or a “local emergency” resulting from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other natural or man-made disaster shall be guilty of the crime of looting (PC 463(a) Abbrev.).
PC 463(b): Every person who commits the crime of grand theft (PC 487), except grand theft of a firearm, during and within an affected county in a “state of emergency” or a “local emergency” resulting from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other natural or unnatural disaster shall be guilty of the crime of looting (PC 463(b) Abbrev.).
Note: For purposes of looting laws, the fact that the structure entered has been damaged by an earthquake, fire, flood, or other natural or man-made disaster shall not, in and of itself, stop a prosecution for PC 463.
Punishment for Looting
The crime of looting is charged either as a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the case, such as the defendant's criminal history, the amount of property stolen, etc. Both felony and misdemeanor looting crimes are charged under PC 463.
Jail Sentence: When PC 463 is charged as a felony, the defendant may face a jail sentence of up to three years. When PC 463 is charged as a misdemeanor the defendant may face a jail sentence of up to one year.
Probation: A probation sentence is period of supervision as opposed to jail. Probation without jail may be available in some looting cases. When probation without jail is granted, the defendant will be ordered to serve 80-160 hours of community service. Whether or not a probation sentence will be allowed in any looting case depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any. A work release or house arrest sentence may serve as an alternative to a jail sentence and as a condition of probation. Probation sentences in PC 463 cases is monitored b the court and is called summary probation or informal probation (no formal probation officer supervises the defendant).
Note: Jail and work release sentences for looting crimes are subject to a possible fifty percent (50%) reduction for good behavior while in jail or while on probation (also known as day for day credit).
PC 1170(h): If the defendant is convicted of PC 463 (looting) and he or she does not receive a probation sentence, then the defendant may nevertheless have his or her jail sentence split or suspended. A split jail sentence is served partially out of custody on work release or house arrest and partially in custody. A suspended sentence is a jail sentence that may never have to be served if the defendant fulfills the conditions of his or her out of custody release.
CIMT: Looting is likely a crime involving moral turpitude. A crime involving moral turpitude is a crime involving deceit or is otherwise morally wrong. Crimes involving moral turpitude can carry collateral consequences for licensed professionals (doctors , dentists, lawyers, etc..) and for non US citizens. Licensed professionals may be suspended or denied a professional license and non US citizens may be denied citizenship or deported for a criminal PC 463 conviction.
Three Strikes Law: PC 463 is not a strike offense under California three Strikes Sentencing Law.
Bail: The schedule bail amount for looting in San Bernardino County is $50,000 for felony charges and $5,000 for misdemeanor charges (2020).
Additional penalties include: restraining orders, fines, restitution, immigration consequences, professional licensing consequences, firearm prohibition (for felony convictions), denial of entry into the military, and more.
Defenses to Looting
Common defenses to looting charges include: insufficient evidence to prove theft or identity, alibi, intoxication (voluntary and involuntary), duress, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, consent to enter a shop, necessity, coerced confession, police investigation misconduct, lack of a "state of emergency" and more.
If you have been charged with the crime of looting, or penal code 463, contact our criminal defense attorney today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are standing by to answer all of your questions and defense options. Call today!
Quick Legal Reference
Code: PC 463 (CalCrim No. 1800 et seq.)
Wobbler: Yes. PC 463 is wobbler. This means that PC 463 may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: Felony PC 463 jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years (if probation not granted). Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.
Probation: Probation is allowed in felony and misdemeanor PC 463 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 463 is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:
Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)
Suspended (possibly never served)
Served in county jail (not state prison)
Note: Limitations may apply
Strike: PC 463 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
Firearms: Felony PC 463 convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Bail: $50,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino)
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