Grand Theft in California

Posted by Seth Chazin | May 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

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Theft is the crime of taking someone else's property without the owner's permission with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of their property. Under California law, when money, personal property, or labor taken is more than $950, the offense committed is called Grand Theft (California Penal Code section 487)  . If the value of what was taken is less than $950, the crime is considered Petty Theft (California Penal Code section 484 and California Penal Code section 488). If the person commits a petty theft while having been previously convicted of a prior petty theft, they can be charged with a felony Petty Theft With a Prior (California Penal Code section 666).

Grand Theft can be considered a white collar crime. The taking of another's property may be done through larceny, embezzlement (California Penal Code section 503), or fraud.

In order to prove the theft, the prosecution has to prove:

· The defendant knowingly took property without the owner's consent

· The property was owned by someone else

· When the defendant committed the act he intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or for an extended period of time.

· The defendant moved the belongings, no matter how slightly, and kept it for some period of time, no matter how short.

In order to prove Grand Theft, the prosecution must prove:

· The property taken is worth more than $950; or,

· The property taken is a car (grand theft auto); or

· The item taken is a firearm (grand theft firearm); or

· The money, personal property, or labor is taken by an employee from their employer amounts to $950 or more within one year.

Grand Theft can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the specific facts of the case and the criminal history of the person charged with the offense.


For a misdemeanor charge of Grand Theft, one can receive a sentence of up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Probation may be included in conjunction with jail time.

For felony charge of Grand Theft, one can be sentenced up to 16 months or 2 or 3 years in prison.

According to Penal Code 12022.6 , felony Grand Theft can include penalty enhancements such as:

o If the theft loss exceeds $65,000, an additional term of one year in prison may be applied

o If the loss exceeds $200,000, an additional term of two years in prison may be added to the sentence

o If the loss is more than 1,300,000, an additional three years in prison may be added to the sentence

o If the loss is more than 3,200,000, an additional four years in prison may be added to the sentence

Further Examples of Grand Theft:

Automobile Theft- Most vehicles' values exceed $950, so Grand Theft is usually committed when one steals a vehicle.

Shoplifting- defined as taking property or goods from a store—if the property stolen exceeds $950 then Grand Theft may be charged.

Firearm Theft- Stealing firearms is considered Grand Theft and the penalties may be more harsh than Grand Theft of goods of a similar value.

If you are a loved one are under investigation, or are being charged with theft offenses, contact Seth P. Chazin, an aggressive criminal defender with proven case results.

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 30 years experience.

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