What is grand theft and how does it differ from other theft?
California has countless laws on its books, including different laws for different crimes. Even within the specific crime of theft, there are many different variations, with different requirements and different possible punishments. Grand theft is one of those variations.
Grand theft explained
Every theft offense requires that the accused took something of value which belonged to someone else. Though this usually means physical property or money, it can also be services. The most common way for that taking to rise to the level of grand theft is due to the value of the property or services. California Penal Code Section 487 states than anything valued at more than $950 is considered grand theft.
Although it doesn’t have to be, any charge of grand theft can be brought as a felony. Known as a ‘wobbler’, the prosecuting agency can charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Not surprisingly, the higher the value of what was taken, the more likely it will be considered a felony. But there are also circumstances when a theft can be considered grand theft even if the value of the property is less than $950 – motor vehicles and firearms are two such examples.
In addition to the value of the property, prosecuting agencies will also consider the history of the accused when deciding to charge grand theft as a felony or misdemeanor. If a person has been previously convicted of theft or other offenses, this increases the likelihood that felony grand theft will be charged. If you’ve been accused of grand theft, it’s imperative that a thorough investigation be completed and a sound defense strategy formulated. Seek the assistance of a knowledgeable professional who is experienced in California criminal law to help guide you through the process.