How can someone get charges dropped for a crime they did not commit?

Full Question:

My Grandson worked in receiving at a sporting goods business, and one of his duties was to open boxes and put items on display. He needed a knife to open boxes of products, so he opened, and used, one of the knives he was unpacking. He did not take the knife for his own personal use, nor did he keep it. He looked for the original packaging, but somebody had come by and picked it up, so he was going to just turn the knife into the supervisor in his department. He was called into the office, and accused of theft, and suspended from his job, from which he was later fired. He was handcuffed by police, and put in police car, taken to police station, where he was searched, and charged! He went to court yesterday, March 26th, where he entered a plea of not guilty. He asked for a public defender, and a court date is now set for April 15, 2009. Did I mention this young man is 19 years old, and helps support his family? They have no money for an attorney, and I'm afraid of what will happen to him. How can he get this charge of embezzlement off his record? What is the usual punishment for this?
03/27/2009   |   Category: Criminal   |   State: California   |   #15791

Answer:

The following are California statutes:

§ 503 Penal

Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a
person to whom it has been intrusted.

§ 504 Penal

Every officer of this state, or of any county, city, city and county,
or other municipal corporation or subdivision thereof, and every deputy,
clerk, or servant of that officer, and every officer, director, trustee,
clerk, servant, or agent of any association, society, or corporation
(public or private), who fraudulently appropriates to any use or purpose
not in the due and lawful execution of that person's trust, any property
in his or her possession or under his or her control by virtue of that
trust, or secretes it with a fraudulent intent to appropriate it to that
use or purpose, is guilty of embezzlement.

§ 508 Penal

Every clerk, agent, or servant of any person who fraudulently
appropriates to his own use, or secretes with a fraudulent intent to
appropriate to his own use, any property of another which has come
into his control or care by virtue of his employment as such clerk,
agent, or servant, is guilty of embezzlement.

§ 509 Penal

A distinct act of taking is not necessary to constitute
embezzlement.

§ 510 Penal

Any evidence of debt, negotiable by delivery only, and actually
executed, is the subject of embezzlement, whether it has been
delivered or issued as a valid instrument or not.

§ 511 Penal


Upon any indictment for embezzlement, it is a sufficient defense
that the property was appropriated openly and avowedly, and under a
claim of title preferred in good faith, even though such claim is
untenable. But this provision does not excuse the unlawful retention
of the property of another to offset or pay demands held against him.

§ 512 Penal

The fact that the accused intended to restore the property
embezzled, is no ground of defense or mitigation of punishment, if it
has not been restored before an information has been laid before a
magistrate, or an indictment found by a grand jury, charging the
commission of the offense.

§ 513 Penal

Whenever, prior to an information laid before a magistrate, or an
indictment found by a grand jury, charging the commission
of embezzlement, the person accused voluntarily and actually restores
or tenders restoration of the property alleged to have been embezzled,
or any part thereof, such fact is not a ground of defense, but it
authorizes the court to mitigate punishment, in its discretion.

§ 514 Penal

Every person guilty of embezzlement is punishable in the manner
prescribed for theft of property of the value or kind embezzled; and
where the property embezzled is an evidence of debt or right
of action, the sum due upon it or secured to be paid by it must be taken
as its value; if the embezzlement or defalcation is of the public
funds of the United States, or of this state, or of any county
or municipality within this state, the offense is a felony, and is
punishable by imprisonment in the state prison; and the person so
convicted is ineligible thereafter to any office of honor, trust,
or profit in this state.

§ 484 Penal

(a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead,
or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently
appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall
knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation
or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal
property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his
or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person,
obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession
of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty
of theft. In determining the value of the property obtained, for the
purposes of this section, the reasonable and fair market value shall be
the test, and in determining the value of services received the contract
price shall be the test. If there be no contract price, the reasonable
and going wage for the service rendered shall govern. For the purposes
of this section, any false or fraudulent representation or pretense made
shall be treated as continuing, so as to cover any money, property
or service received as a result thereof, and the complaint, information
or indictment may charge that the crime was committed on any date during the
particular period in question. The hiring of any additional employee
or employees without advising each of them of every labor claim due and
unpaid and every judgment that the employer has been unable to meet shall
be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud.

(b)
(1) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code,
where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another
person pursuant to a written contract, and that property has a value
greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and is not a commonly used
household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably
presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner
within 10 days after the owner has made written demand by certified
or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement
for return of the property so leased or rented.

(2) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a
person has leased or rented the personal property of another person
pursuant to a written contract, and where the property has a value no
greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or where the property is a
commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be
rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property
to its owner within 20 days after the owner has made written demand by
certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease
or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (b), if one presents
with criminal intent identification which bears a false or fictitious
name or address for the purpose of obtaining the lease or rental of the
personal property of another, the presumption created herein shall apply
upon the failure of the lessee to return the rental property at the
expiration of the lease or rental agreement, and no written demand for
the return of the leased or rented property shall be required.

(d) The presumptions created by subdivisions (b) and (c) are
presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence.

(e) Within 30 days after the lease or rental agreement has expired, the
owner shall make written demand for return of the property so leased
or rented. Notice addressed and mailed to the lessee or renter at the
address given at the time of the making of the lease or rental agreement
and to any other known address shall constitute proper demand. Where the
owner fails to make such written demand the presumption created by
subdivision (b) shall not apply.

§ 486 Penal

Theft is divided into two degrees, the first of which is termed
grand theft; the second, petty theft.

§ 487 Penal

Grand theft is theft committed in any of the following cases:

(a) When the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a
value exceeding four hundred dollars ($400), except as provided in
subdivision (b).

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), grand theft is committed in any
of the following cases:

(1)
(A) When domestic fowls, avocados, olives, citrus or deciduous
fruits, other fruits, vegetables, nuts, artichokes, or other farm crops
are taken of a value exceeding one hundred dollars ($100).

(B) For the purposes of establishing that the value of avocados
or citrus fruit under this paragraph exceeds one hundred dollars ($100),
that value may be shown by the presentation of credible evidence which
establishes that on the day of the theft avocados or citrus fruit of the
same variety and weight exceeded one hundred dollars ($100) in wholesale
value.

(2) When fish, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, kelp, algae, or other
aquacultural products are taken from a commercial or research operation
which is producing that product, of a value exceeding one hundred dollars
($100).

(3) Where the money, labor, or real or personal property is taken by a
servant, agent, or employee from his or her principal or employer and
aggregates four hundred dollars ($400) or more in any 12 consecutive
month period.

(c) When the property is taken from the person of another.

(d) When the property taken is any of the following:

(1) An automobile, horse, mare, gelding, any bovine animal, any caprine
animal, mule, jack, jenny, sheep, lamb, hog, sow, boar, gilt, barrow,
or pig.

(2) A firearm.

(e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1997.

§ 488 Penal

Theft in other cases is petty theft.

§ 489 Penal

Grand theft is punishable as follows:

(a) When the grand theft involves the theft of a firearm, by
imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, 2, or 3 years.

(b) In all other cases, by imprisonment in a county jail not
exceeding one year or in the state prison.

§ 490 Penal

Petty theft is punishable by fine not exceeding one thousand
dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding
six months, or both.

§ 490a Penal

Wherever any law or statute of this state refers to or mentions
larceny, embezzlement, or stealing, said law or statute shall hereafter
be read and interpreted as if the word "theft" were substituted
therefor.

§ 490.1 Penal

(a) Petty theft, where the value of the money, labor, real or personal
property taken is of a value which does not exceed fifty dollars ($50),
may be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction, at the discretion
of the prosecutor, provided that the person charged with the offense has no
other theft or theft-related conviction.

(b) Any offense charged as an infraction under this section shall
be subject to the provisions of subdivision (d) of Section 17 and
Sections 19.6 and 19.7.

A violation which is an infraction under this section is punishable by
a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

§ 490.5 Penal

(a) Upon a first conviction for petty theft involving merchandise taken
from a merchant's premises or a book or other library materials taken
from a library facility, a person shall be punished by a mandatory fine
of not less than fifty dollars ($50) and not more than one thousand
dollars ($1,000) for each such violation; and may also be punished by
imprisonment in the county jail, not exceeding six months, or both such
fine and imprisonment.

(b) When an unemancipated minor's willful conduct would constitute
petty theft involving merchandise taken from a merchant's premises or a
book or other library materials taken from a library facility, any
merchant or library facility who has been injured by that conduct may
bring a civil action against the parent or legal guardian having control
and custody of the minor. For the purposes of those actions the
misconduct of the unemancipated minor shall be imputed to the parent
or legal guardian having control and custody of the minor. The parent
or legal guardian having control or custody of an unemancipated minor whose
conduct violates this subdivision shall be jointly and severally liable
with the minor to a merchant or to a library facility for damages of not
less than fifty dollars ($50) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500),
plus costs. In addition to the foregoing damages, the parent or legal
guardian shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor to the
merchant for the retail value of the merchandise if it is not recovered
in a merchantable condition, or to a library facility for the fair market
value of its book or other library materials. Recovery of these damages
may be had in addition to, and is not limited by, any other provision
of law which limits the liability of a parent or legal guardian for the
tortious conduct of a minor. An action for recovery of damages, pursuant
to this subdivision, may be brought in small claims court if the total
damages do not exceed the jurisdictional limit of that court, or in any
other appropriate court; however, total damages, including the value
of the merchandise or book or other library materials, shall not exceed five
hundred dollars ($500) for each action brought under this section.

The provisions of this subdivision are in addition to other civil
remedies and do not limit merchants or other persons to elect to
pursue other civil remedies, except that the provisions
of Section 1714.1 of the Civil Code shall not apply herein.

(c) When an adult or emancipated minor has unlawfully taken merchandise
from a merchant's premises, or a book or other library materials from a
library facility, the adult or emancipated minor shall be liable to the
merchant or library facility for damages of not less than fifty dollars
($50) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500), plus costs. In addition
to the foregoing damages, the adult or emancipated minor shall be liable
to the merchant for the retail value of the merchandise if it is not
recovered in merchantable condition, or to a library facility for the
fair market value of its book or other library materials. An action for
recovery of damages, pursuant to this subdivision, may be brought in
small claims court if the total damages do not exceed the jurisdictional
limit of such court, or in any other appropriate court. The provisions
of this subdivision are in addition to other civil remedies and do not limit
merchants or other persons to elect to pursue other civil remedies.

(d) In lieu of the fines prescribed by subdivision (a), any person may
be required to perform public services designated by the court, provided
that in no event shall any such person be required to perform less than
the number of hours of such public service necessary to satisfy the fine
assessed by the court as provided by subdivision (a) at the minimum wage
prevailing in the state at the time of sentencing.


(e) All fines collected under this section shall be collected and
distributed in accordance with Sections 1463 and 1463.1
of the Penal Code; provided, however, that a county may, by a majority vote
of the members of its board of supervisors, allocate any amount up to,
but not exceeding 50 percent of such fines to the county superintendent
of schools for allocation to local school districts. The fines allocated
shall be administered by the county superintendent of schools to finance
public school programs, which provide counseling or other educational
services designed to discourage shoplifting, theft, and burglary. Subject
to rules and regulations as may be adopted by the Superintendent
of Public Instruction, each county superintendent of schools shall allocate
such funds to school districts within the county which submit project
applications designed to further the educational purposes of this
section. The costs of administration of this section by each county
superintendent of schools shall be paid from the funds allocated to the
county superintendent of schools.

(f)
(1) A merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time for
the purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner
whenever the merchant has probable cause to believe the person to be
detained is attempting to unlawfully take or has unlawfully taken
merchandise from the merchant's premises.

A theater owner may detain a person for a reasonable time for the
purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner whenever the
theater owner has probable cause to believe the person to be detained is
attempting to operate a video recording device within the premises of a
motion picture theater without the authority of the owner of the
theater.

A person employed by a library facility may detain a person for a
reasonable time for the purpose of conducting an investigation in a
reasonable manner whenever the person employed by a library facility has
probable cause to believe the person to be detained is attempting to
unlawfully remove or has unlawfully removed books or library materials
from the premises of the library facility.

(2) In making the detention a merchant, theater owner, or a person
employed by a library facility may use a reasonable amount of nondeadly
force necessary to protect himself or herself and to prevent escape
of the person detained or the loss of tangible or intangible property.

(3) During the period of detention any items which a merchant
or theater owner, or any items which a person employed by a library facility
has probable cause to believe are unlawfully taken from the premises
of the merchant or library facility, or recorded on theater premises, and
which are in plain view may be examined by the merchant, theater owner,
or person employed by a library facility for the purposes of ascertaining
the ownership thereof.

(4) A merchant, theater owner, a person employed by a library
facility, or an agent thereof, having probable cause to believe the
person detained was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any item
from the premises, or was attempting to operate a video recording device
within the premises of a motion picture theater without the authority
of the owner of the theater, may request the person detained to voluntarily
surrender the item or recording. Should the person detained refuse to
surrender the recording or item of which there is probable cause to
believe has been recorded on or unlawfully taken from the premises,
or attempted to be recorded or unlawfully taken from the premises, a limited
and reasonable search may be conducted by those authorized to make the
detention in order to recover the item. Only packages, shopping bags,
handbags or other property in the immediate possession of the person
detained, but not including any clothing worn by the person, may be
searched pursuant to this subdivision. Upon surrender or discovery of the
item, the person detained may also be requested, but may not be
required, to provide adequate proof of his or her true identity.

(5) If any person admitted to a theater in which a motion picture is to
be or is being exhibited, refuses or fails to give or surrender
possession or to cease operation of any video recording device that the
person has brought into or attempts to bring into that theater, then a
theater owner shall have the right to refuse admission to that person
or request that the person leave the premises and shall thereupon offer to
refund and, unless that offer is refused, refund to that person the price
paid by that person for admission to that theater. If the person
thereafter refuses to leave the theater or cease operation of the video
recording device, then the person shall be deemed to be intentionally
interfering with and obstructing those attempting to carry on a lawful
business within the meaning of Section 602.1.

(6) A peace officer who accepts custody of a person arrested for
an offense contained in this section may, subsequent to the arrest,
search the person arrested and his or her immediate possessions for
any item or items alleged to have been taken.

(7) In any civil action brought by any person resulting from a
detention or arrest by a merchant, it shall be a defense to such action
that the merchant detaining or arresting such person had probable cause
to believe that the person had stolen or attempted to steal merchandise
and that the merchant acted reasonably under all the circumstances.

In any civil action brought by any person resulting from a detention
or arrest by a theater owner or person employed by a library facility, it
shall be a defense to that action that the theater owner or person
employed by a library facility detaining or arresting that person had
probable cause to believe that the person was attempting to operate a
video recording device within the premises of a motion picture theater
without the authority of the owner of the theater or had stolen
or attempted to steal books or library materials and that the person
employed by a library facility acted reasonably under all the
circumstances.

(g) As used in this section:

(1) "Merchandise" means any personal property, capable of manual
delivery, displayed, held or offered for retail sale by a merchant.

(2) "Merchant" means an owner or operator, and the agent, consignee,
employee, lessee, or officer of an owner or operator, of any premises
used for the retail purchase or sale of any personal property capable
of manual delivery.

(3) "Theater owner" means an owner or operator, and the agent,
employee, consignee, lessee, or officer of an owner or operator, of any
premises used for the exhibition or performance of motion pictures to the
general public.

(4) The terms "book or other library materials" include any book,
plate, picture, photograph, engraving, painting, drawing, map, newspaper,
magazine, pamphlet, broadside, manuscript, document, letter, public
record, microform, sound recording, audiovisual material in any format,
magnetic or other tape, electronic data-processing record, artifact,
or other documentary, written or printed material regardless of physical
form or characteristics, or any part thereof, belonging to, on loan to,
or otherwise in the custody of a library facility.

(5) The term "library facility" includes any public library; any
library of an educational, historical or eleemosynary institution,
organization or society; any museum; any repository of public records.

(h) Any library facility shall post at its entrance and exit a
conspicuous sign to read as follows:

"IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE THEFT OF BOOKS AND LIBRARY MATERIALS,
STATE LAW AUTHORIZES THE DETENTION FOR A REASONABLE PERIOD OF ANY
PERSON USING THESE FACILITIES SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING "LIBRARY THEFT"
(PENAL CODE SECTION 490.5)."

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