Criminal Law

1752. Owning or Operating a Chop Shop

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with owning or operating a chop shop.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant knew that (he/she) (owned/ [or] operated) a chop shop;


1. The defendant intentionally (owned/ [or] operated) the chop shop.

A chop shop is a building, lot, or other place where:

1. A person alters, destroys, takes apart, reassembles, or stores a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part;

2. That person knows that the vehicle or part has been obtained by theft, fraud, or conspiracy to defraud;


3. That person knows that the vehicle or part was obtained in order to either:

a. Sell or dispose of the vehicle or part;


b. Alter, counterfeit, deface, destroy, disguise, falsify, forge, obliterate, or remove the identity, including an identification number, of the vehicle or part, in order to misrepresent its identity or prevent its identification.

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.


Elements. Veh. Code, § 10801.

Chop Shop Defined. Veh. Code, § 250.

Meaning of "Operate." People v. Ramirez (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 408, 414-415 [94 Cal.Rptr.2d 76].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Property, § 263.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes Against Property, § 143.03[2][c] (Matthew Bender).

Lesser Included Offenses

Receiving Stolen Property. Pen. Code, § 496. There is a split in authority on this issue. People v. Sanchez (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 325, 333-334 [6 Cal.Rptr.3d 271] concluded that receiving stolen property is a lesser included offense, but a defendant may be convicted of both offenses when different property is involved in the two convictions. However, People v. Strohman (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 1313, 1316 [101 Cal.Rptr.2d 520], reached the opposite conclusion.

(New January 2006)