There are a number of circumstances in which you might be charged with grand theft in California. Maybe you forgot to pay for an item at a high-end clothing store, felt forced into theft by desperate financial circumstances, or had a temporary lapse of judgment. Under California Penal Code § 487, grand theft is a serious crime.
An experienced, knowledgeable California theft attorney can help you understand the charges, navigate the complex situation, and potentially find an amicable solution for all involved. In California, a theft conviction will result in penalties ranging in severity depending on the amount stolen.
What Constitutes Grand Theft?
Grand theft covers various situations in which property is taken without consent. Grand theft may be charged in the following scenarios:
- The allegedly stolen property has a value of $950 or more
- The property was allegedly taken directly off the owner, no matter its value
- The property was an automobile or firearm
- Farm crops worth more than $250 were taken
- Fish, shellfish, or other aquacultural products worth more than $250 were allegedly taken from a commercial fishery or research operation
- $950 worth of money, labor, or personal property is taken by an employee from their employer over a 12-month period
- Certain animals, such as a horse or domestic fowls, are taken
What Are Some Examples of Grand Theft?
Grand theft may be charged when:
- Someone shoplifts tools worth $950 from a home improvement store
- Someone steals $250 worth of avocados from a farm
- A grocery store employee steals $950 or more from their employer’s cash register
- Someone takes a person’s wallet or phone from their pocket or purse
What Are Potential Penalties if Convicted of Grand Theft?
Grand theft may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony if the property has high value. Possible penalties may include the following:
- Misdemeanor grand theft may be punished by three years of probation, up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
- Felony grand theft can be punished by up to one year in county jail, or by 16 months, or two or three years, in state prison.
- The charges may show up on one’s criminal record, which can impact job and rental housing applications.
What Are Some Common Defenses Against Grand Theft?
If accused of grand theft, you may have several options for explaining or denying the charges. These are a few of the common claims made to explain circumstances or deny guilt:
- Intent: A prosecutor must show that you intended to steal property to begin with.
- Consent: It is not considered grand theft if you were granted permission to take the property by its owner.
- False accusation: This occurs when you are wrongfully accused of taking property.
- Taking back belongings: If the property in question rightfully belongs to you, is it not considered grand theft.
- Error: This occurs when the property was taken by mistake or in error.
What Should You Do When Charged With Grand Theft?
Grand theft is a potentially serious charge, and it’s understandable that you would feel nervous if accused (or if a close friend or family member is accused). Given the complexities of the charge and uncertainty surrounding the legal proceedings, it’s important to seek the counsel of an experienced San Diego grand theft lawyer.
We believe that people charged with crimes in San Diego often are good people who made mistakes or encountered the wrong set of circumstances. As such, it’s our goal to help those accused put a theft charge behind them and move on with their lives.
An experienced California theft attorney may be able to:
- Convince a prosecutor, judge, or a jury to be lenient;
- Get you sentenced to probation, or negotiate to have your charge reduced to something less serious;
- Or, if the facts are on your side, get your case dismissed entirely
If you are facing grand theft charges, call California theft attorney Jessica McElfresh today at (858) 756-7107 for a free consultation on your case. Find out how she may be able to help. Ultimately, every case is unique, and an experienced California theft lawyer can review the facts of your case, explain your options for a defense, and tell you what to expect from the legal process.