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Theft of Copper Materials

PC 487j Law & Defense

Information on the crime of theft of copper materials is found at California penal code section 487j.

PC 487j Law


PC 487j: It is a crime for a person to steal, take, or carry away copper materials that belong to another person without that other person's consent (PC 487j Abbrev.).
Note: Cooper Material includes, but is not limited to: copper wire, copper cable, copper tubing, and copper piping.
It is not theft to move copper materials, even when those copper materials are moved without the consent of the true owner of those materials, if the defendant did not intend to permanently deprive the true owner when he or she moved them. Theft means that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the true owner of the copper. Usually the defendant's intent to permanently deprive the true owner of copper materials is shown by circumstantial evidence, such as when the defendant cuts wire from a construction site at night and without permission. 
Jail: PC 487j may be charged a a misdemeanor or as a felony (wobbler). When PC 487j is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail. When PC 487j is charged a a felony, the defendant may face up to sixteen months, two, or three years in the county jail. The amount of jail the defendant is ordered to serve depends largely on the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors in the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any.
Note:: A felony crime may be reclassified and reduced to a misdemeanor in a theft of copper case. Reducing  a felony to a misdemeanor usually requires a request from the court, over the district attorney's objection, and based on good cause, that demonstrates the presence of mitigating factors in the case. This can be done at any time in a case, but usually this request is made at a preliminary hearing where a judge has a chance to hear the basic facts of the case (PC 17b).
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in theft of copper cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not a defendant receives a probation sentence after a conviction of PC 487j depends on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history, the facts of the case, and the terms of any plea agreement. 
Note: A probation sentence after a conviction for a felony is called formal probation, which is monitored by a probation officer and a probation sentence after a conviction for a misdemeanor is called informal probation, which is monitored by the court.
Work Release: Work release sentence is type of manual labor that usually involves collecting trash along highways or around county jails.Work release sentences are intended to serve as an alternative to a jail sentence. Work release
PC 1170(h): If the defendant is convicted of stealing copper materials and he or she does not receive a probation sentence , then the defendant will be allowed to to serve his or her incarceration in a county jail, as opposed to a state prison. Also, any jail sentence related to a PC 487j conviction could be split or suspended. A split jail sentence means that the defendant may serve some part of that sentence out of jail on work release or house arrest (GPS monitoring). A suspended sentence is a jail sentence that might not have o be served at all if the defendant obeys the terms of his or her out of custody sentence.
Three Strikes Law: PC 487j is not a strike offense per California's Three Strikes Sentencing law.
CIMT: Theft of copper is consider a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that the crime is inherently wrong or involves deceit. Crimes that involve moral turpitude can cause major negative consequences for non US citizens and licensed professional (dentist, teachers, nurses, etc.). Non US citizens may be deported or denied reentry into the United States upon an arrest or conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude and licensed professionals may be disciplined by their respective licensing agency (Board, Bar, or Commission).
In addition the penalties listed above if found guilty of PC 487j, the defendant could face any of theft following punishments: Fines, up to $2,500 (Misdemeanor) or $10,000 (Felony), court fees, restitution, criminal protective orders, denial of enlistment in the United States Armed Forces, character impeachment in subsequent prosecution, civil lawsuits, and more.
Common defenses to a charge of theft of copper materials include: insufficient evidence to prove any element of the crime (intent to permanently deprive, carry away the materials, etc.), consent to move the copper materials, illegal search and seizure, mistake of fact (as to consent to move the materials or the fact that the materials belonged to another person , jury nullification, duress, coerced confession, necessity, and more.
If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of theft of copper material, or penal code section 487j, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.Our lawyers will patiently explain your rights and defense options and we are available everyday of the week to assist you. Call today!



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