A Tustin man has been arrested on suspicion of stealing up to 24 ATMs across Orange County, CA. He was apprehended and taken into custody on Sunday, where he was booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property.
According to a statement from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the 40-year-old man was initially sought out in February in conjunction with the theft of an ATM from a Laguna Niguel business but escaped following a short pursuit. Investigators located the suspect four months later driving an allegedly stolen SUV. Sheriff's deputies then took the man into custody, where he was held on $500,000 bail.
Based on DNA evidence linking the suspect to the stolen vehicle and the manner in which the Laguna Niguel ATM theft was carried out, deputies suspect that he may be linked to at least 20 other ATM thefts in the Orange County area that were committed in the past year.
The investigation against the man is ongoing, and officials are reviewing other ATM thefts in the Orange County area to see if they can be linked to the suspect.
The Principle of "Multiple Counts" in Criminal Law
One of the most dangerous things about criminal charges is that a person may be accused of numerous "counts," or occurrences, of the offense. Each count may be charged as a separate crime, meaning a defendant may face the penalties for that crime times however many occurrences have been allegedly committed. For a person facing 20+ counts of ATM theft, this can add up to years upon years of imprisonment. Felony charges are also likely to apply, not necessarily because of the number of alleged thefts but because of the value of property stolen.
In California, a defendant may face grand theft charges if the value of property stolen is worth more than $950. Grand theft may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, with felony penalties equaling up to 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison. For multiple instances or counts, of grand theft, the penalties would be multiplied accordingly.
Because ATMs are a part of the banking system, the federal government may become involved in prosecuting ATM theft charges. If ATM theft is prosecuted in federal court, a defendant is more likely to face increased penalties and judges will have less of an ability to enforce lesser penalties upon a conviction, as they have less leeway in these matters.
Are you interested in finding out more about theft crime charges in California and your rights as a defendant who has been arrested for such offenses? Talking to an Orange County criminal defense lawyer may prove extremely beneficial as you seek guidance in addressing this serious matter. At the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, we are committed to providing experienced and aggressive criminal defense representation in the face of all misdemeanor and felony theft crimes in Southern California. Call now for a confidential consultation.