Isn’t looting just like theft or burglary? Essentially, California law defines looting as theft or burglary that occurs during a state of emergency. Situations that lead to a state of emergency can be a very confusing and turbulent time. It may very well be the worst time to be arrested and you will definitely need an experienced San Diego arson and property crimes lawyer to defend you.

Understanding the Crime of Looting

You may be charged with looting if you are suspected of committing the crimes of burglary, grand theft, or petty theft during a state of emergency. A state of emergency is a legal declaration made by the Governor or by a local body in government, and this declaration generally comes in the wake of the following:

  • Flood
  • Major earthquakes
  • Public riots
  • Wildfires
  • Snow storm or some other severe weather conditions

The crime of looting is generally committed when businesses, homes, or property have been vacated or left unsecured due to whatever scenario is causing a state of emergency.

Unfortunately, many people who would not ordinarily go into a store and steal a flat screen television, may do so during a riot when the doors of the store have been destroyed by other rioters. But theft is theft, and so looting laws are designed to address this specific type of criminal behavior during times of emergency. Accordingly, the charges of looting carry serious penalties.

Looting is one of those crimes that can be pursued by the prosecutor as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Only looting by petty theft is charged as a misdemeanor.

The possible penalties for a looting conviction can include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail for misdemeanor looting
  • Up to 3 years in prison for felony looting
  • A mandatory minimum jail sentence of 180 days if your looting charge involves a suspected burglary or grand theft

When facing these kinds of consequences, you need a lawyer who will fight to secure a not guilty verdict and keep you from behind bars.

You Have the Right to a Good Criminal Defense

In all criminal matters, you are innocent until proven guilty. While it is the burden of the prosecution to prove your guilt in all criminal trials, the law allows a defendant to put forward legal defenses to establish his or her innocence. Some common defenses that may be available to you in a looting case may include:

  • The evidence will show that you did not possess the criminal intent required for the charges
  • The items that are the subject of your case were obtained by way of an illegal search and seizure
  • It was not you — there is some mistake in identification

Having a sound defense is always good, but how your defense is presented is very important in a criminal matter. Accordingly, you will need a qualified and experienced arson and property crimes lawyer who understands the laws surrounding your charge and who is an excellent litigator in the courtroom.

How a San Diego Looting Lawyer from McElfresh Law Can Help You

Trying to defend yourself against a looting charge is generally not a good idea. Here are a couple of reasons why you will need McElfresh Law on your side:

  • Looting cases can become complex. In many looting cases, numerous people may be involved in the alleged crime. Nevertheless, the prosecution must prove your intent and your identity to have a case. You will need a lawyer who understands the law and who will work from the start to get your case dismissed.
  • You are innocent. You have available to you a number of legal defenses. The greatest of them is that you did not do it. However, knowing you are innocent, and proving that you are, can be a bit of a challenge if you do not understand the criminal justice system. McElfresh Law offers years of experience in San Diego criminal defense, knowledge of the local courts, and an understanding of what makes a strong defense strategy.

We know there are a number of law firms that you can choose from in San Diego. But when your freedom is at stake because of looting charge and you know you are innocent, there is only one criminal defense law firm you should turn to. Call McElfresh Law today a (858) 756-7107 and schedule a consultation with a skilled San Diego looting lawyer.

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