What is Grand Theft?

Grand theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property that has a value of $950 or more. Grand theft can be committed through the following:

  • Larceny – the unlawful taking of personal property as an attempt to deprive the legal owner of it permanently
  • False Pretense – deceiving somebody by telling them something that isn’t true in order to get them to give you the property
  • Trick – using fraud or deceit in order to get the owner to give you the property
  • Embezzlement – you are entrusted to manage money or property and steal all or part of that money or property for your own personal gain.

There are some circumstances where you can be charged with grand theft even if the value of the property stolen was less than $950. For this to be a possiblity, any of the following have to be true:

  • The property stolen included a firearm
  • The property stolen include an automobile
  • The property stolen included certain animals (horse, sheep, pig)
  • The property was stolen off of of the owner’s person

Penalties for Grand Theft

Grand theft is seen as a wobbler meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances and your criminal history. If the grand theft is ruled as a misdemeanor the penalty is up to one year in a county jail. If the grand theft is ruled as a felony then the penalties include felony probation with up to one year in a county jail or sixteen months, two years, or three years in a county jail.

Penalties for Theft of a Firearm

The penalties are different and more severe if a firearm was stolen. This crime is always a felony. The possible sentence for theft of a firearm is sixteen months, two years, or three years in a California state prison. It is also a strike offense under California’s three strikes law.

Additional Penalties

There are additional penalties if the property value that was stolen was especially high. The additional penalties include:

  • One year if the property value was more than $65,000.
  • Two years if the property value was more than $200,000.
  • Three years if the property value was more than $1,300,000.
  • Four years if the property value was more than $3,200,000.

Legal Defenses for Grand Theft

Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you fight the charges of grand theft. Here are some of the most common legal defenses for this crime.

Lack of Intent

If you had no intent of stealing then you can’t be charged with this crime. An experienced grand theft lawyer must convince the judge, prosecutor, or jury that you made a mistake or were being absent minded.

Claim of Right

A claim of right is if you believed in good faith that you had a right to the specific property that was taken. This defense will be invalid if you attempted to hide what you were taking or when you took it.


You cannot be charged with this crime if the owner consented to you taking the property.

False Accusation

A lot of people are falsely accused of grand theft, so it is a helpful legal defense.

Any questions? Contact us.

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