Houman Fakhimi

Car Smash and Grabs Reported to Newport Beach Police

Corona Del Mar Today reports that four vehicles at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas had their windows smashed and items inside stolen, including three sets of golf clubs.

Cases of auto theft in Newport Beach and statewide have gotten much attention in recent months as the state has changed its policies on who goes to jail and prison.

As Newport Beach criminal defense lawyers recently reported, the state's unconstitutionally overcrowded prisons and jails had to be addressed, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

The state's decision was to begin releasing non-violent offenders, or holding them only for several days, while violent offenders were more likely to be held in custody pending trial. Some now say that this situation has resulted in an increase in theft-based crimes in California.

While there is no definitive proof of this, people arrested and charged with theft, burglary and auto theft have been released back into the public. In the past, they likely would have been held in custody unless they could arrange to be bailed out.

With California's budget in such a mess, it's unlikely that a new or better plan will come along any time soon. But rather than rely on speculation, it should be proven that re-offenders are causing a spike in auto-based crimes statewide, if in fact that is the case.

According to the news report, four vehicles were broken into at the upscale beachfront resort in Newport Beach just north of Laguna Beach.

The incidents were reported in a five-hour span between 6 and 11 a.m. on a recent Tuesday. It's unclear if the incidents were connected or performed by the same person. In one case, a window was smashed, but nothing was stolen. In another, golf clubs were stolen and in a third case, two sets of clubs were yanked. In the fourth incident, there is no word if anything was taken.

There is a difference in auto theft and auto burglary, however. And in California, the difference between penalties is substantial.

Under California Penal Code 458, burglary means breaking into any building or vehicle and stealing the contents inside. Under the law, a person convicted of the crime can be sent to prison for up to six years.

Under California Penal Code 484, however, a person is convicted of grand theft of a vehicle if the value is $950 or more. But the possible prison term maxes out at three years.

So, stealing property from inside a locked vehicle can be prosecuted as burglary of a vehicle and can be punished by twice as many years as actually taking the vehicle.

In order to prove these crimes, the state must show intent to commit an act. That means they must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the person intended to steal the vehicle or the contents of the vehicle. Not only are there challenges to that, but also to eyewitness identification or alibi witnesses who can prove the defendant wasn't near the vehicle in question.

Not every case is as open-and-shut as the news media makes it to be. That's why every case must be challenged aggressively in court.

Contact the Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.