Can I get in Trouble for Keeping Property I find? – California Penal Code 485

By: Wallin & Klarich

If you find something of value under circumstances in which it would have been relatively easy for you to find its true owner (or at least make an honest attempt to find the true owner), keeping it or using it for personal gain without doing so can result in a theft charge.

Finding something (such as an engagement ring) in a grocery store, for example, would be a situation in which it would have been relatively easy to find the true owner or at least make an honest attempt because an announcement over the PA system by a store employee would have provided notice to the true owner to come forward.

Sometimes the lost property itself may contain the name and contact information of its true owner, such as a cell phone or a wallet with a driver’s license. The crime punishes those who simply do not even attempt to try and locate the true owner before taking the property for themselves.

If you are accused of wrongfully appropriating lost property, you could face petty theft or grand theft charges. If the value of the property exceeds $950, you will likely face grand theft charges, which is more serious than a petty theft charge (which is incurred if the value of the property is $950 or less).

If you are facing theft allegations resulting from appropriating lost property, you will need to expertise of a skilled San Bernardino theft defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been in practice for over 30 years and can help you achieve the best possible results. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at We will be there for you when you call.

Posted In: Theft