California P.C. 485: Appropriation of Lost Property

Appropriation of lost property is a theft crime governed under California Penal Code 485. This theft crime punishes one who finds lost property and does not make a reasonable attempt to locate the true owner. In essence, the finder make no attempt to locate the true owner or informs law enforcement of the lost property, but instead keeps the property as their own. The degree of punishment depends on a number of factors including the value of the property and one’s criminal history.

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What is the Punishment for Appropriation of Lost Property?

This charge may be filed as an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. If one is convicted as an infraction, they face a fine up to $250. If one is convicted under this statute as a misdemeanor, one faces up to one year in the county jail. And if convicted under this statute as a felony, one faces a sentencing range of 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison. Furthermore, if one is convicted under this statute as a felony, they may be eligible to have their felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation. One also may be entitled to expunge their conviction at the same hearing as well.

What are the Legal Defenses?

A common defense is that the property was not lost, but it was abandoned. If the property was abandoned, one is not guilty of misappropriating lost property. Additionally, one may have made a reasonable attempt to locate the true owner and therefore is not guilty under this statute. Furthermore, there may be no indication to cause a reasonable person to inquire further after discovering the lost property.


Dan was walking down the street and discovers a bicycle in the bushes. Dan observe a bicycle license attached to the bike. Dan rides the bike back to his house and makes no attempt to ascertain the owner even though the bike contains a license which would reveal the registered owner of the bike. Dan would be guilty of misappropriating lost property because by virtue of observing that the bike had an attached licenses, Dan should have made a reasonable attempt to locate the true owner.

Free Los Angeles Theft Crimes Attorney Consultation

If you have been arrested, charged, or are under investigation for appropriating lost property under Penal Code 485, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free consultation concerning your rights and defenses. Mr. Rogers is located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call (949) 625-4487 now.

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