You will get convicted for grand theft if you unlawfully possess someone else’s property whose value is $950 or more. A conviction for grand theft will hurt both your professional and social life. An offense such as shoplifting which seems minor could get you convicted for grand theft if the value of the item you took met the grand theft criteria. If you or your loved one is facing these charges, seeking legal representation from the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm is one of the wisest decisions you can make. We serve those who are charged in Orange County, and help you avoid hefty fines and prison sentences associated with grand theft.
The Legal Definition of Penal Code 487- California Grand Theft
In California, the description of this type of theft is based on the elements of the crime. To get convicted for this crime, the prosecutor must prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. However, these elements depend on the category of theft that is being charged. The following are grand theft categories:
Grand Theft on False Pretense
In California, you commit grand theft by pretense if you intentionally deceive somebody else by telling them that wasn’t true. You made up the lies to persuade the other person to allow you to take their property. The pretense does not have to be direct. You may get convicted for theft by pretense if you intentionally lied to someone else by:
- Giving them information that you are aware of is not true
- Failing to provide relevant information which you are obliged
- Recklessly claiming something without proof that it is true
- Making promises which you don’t intend to fulfill to the person
To get convicted for grand theft, the defendant must have relied on the false information you provided to turn their properties to you. However, this is not necessarily the only information they have to rely on for their actions. If you are charged with theft by pretense, the prosecutor must produce the following proof:
- A false document that you presented to the other person
- Testimonies from witnesses
- Writing that indicates pretense and must have your handwritten signature
This evidence will help prevent people from making false accusations. Some individuals are involved in deals which include handing over of property, and the later change their mind.
Grand Theft on Trick
It is considered an act of trick if:
- You knowingly got possession of property that does not belong to you
- You took the property away from their owner using fraud
- You obtained the property aiming at temporarily or permanently keep it away from the owner.
- The owner of the property did not have the intention to transfer it to you.
The trick is somehow similar to theft with pretense. However, in pretense, the owner lets you have the ownership, but in grand theft by trick, they are not aware that their actions will transfer ownership to you.
Grand Theft by Larceny
You commit theft by larceny for taking another person’s tangible item without permission. You took the property ad moved it away from the owner to keep it for a significant amount of time while depriving access. By doing this, you denied the owner of the value of enjoyment for that item. As simple as some activities such as shoplifting might be, they can get you charged with grand theft if the value of the item exceeds $950
Grand Theft for Embezzlement
You will face grand theft charges if you commit theft by embezzlement in California. The elements which make up a grand theft case by fraud are:
- A property owner trusted you with a particular property by its owner.
- You were placed in a situation of right over the property
- You fraudulently used the property intending to benefit yourself
- You intended to keep it away from its owner for some time. It is important to note that you can still get charged with grand theft even if you had intentions of returning the property after some time.
If the court believes that you committed theft in more than a single category of grand theft, they do not need to agree to the exact theory under which you committed the crime. However, they have to admit to the type of grand theft that you violated. If they cannot do so, you will not get convicted for grand theft; rather, you face petty theft, which is a lesser crime.
There are numerous ways in which a prosecutor can prove that you committed grand theft, and you may end up facing the harsh penalties associated with these charges. Therefore, it is essential to seek the help of a competent criminal attorney to help represent you in the grand theft case.
Legal Penalties for Penal Code 487 California Grand Theft
The penalties for grand theft in California will vary depending on the category of grand theft charge you are facing, the circumstances of your case as well as your criminal history;
- Penalties for a Wobbler Offense
In most cases, Under Penal Code 487 of California, grand theft may get charged as a wobbler offense meaning that a prosecutor charges it as a felony or a misdemeanor. The decision on what type of charge your grand theft offense will be will depend on your criminal record. If charged as a misdemeanor, grand theft carries a penalty not exceeding one year in county jail. If you have a prior felony conviction, you may get charged with a felony even if the value of the property you stole is less than $950.
On the other hand, if you get convicted for a felony grand theft, you will face probation and a sentence not exceeding one year in jail. You can also get sixteen months to three years of jail time if no firearms were used to carry out the offense.
A conviction for grand theft will also see you serve pronation, which is often 12 months. While on probation, you will be required to follow specific probation terms include: Visiting regularly with your probation officer, avoiding other criminal activities, and not associating with known criminals.
- Penalties for Grand theft with a firearm
Committing an act of grand theft where you used a gun to inflict fear or force, you will get charged with felony grand theft. Regardless of the circumstances, you cannot get an option for a misdemeanor theft charge. The Possible sentence for this offense is sixteen months, two years, and a maximum of three years in State prison. Unlike other categories of grand theft, the crime involving a firearm is treated as a severe felony.
- Penalty for Grand Theft Auto
Under California Penal Code 487(d) grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the severity of the penalties will depend on your criminal history. In most cases, when charged as a felony, grand theft auto bears sentences of 16 months, two years or 3 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 or both. California law provides for penalty enhancement for expensive cars in that if the vehicle involved in the crime is worth $65,000 or more, you will get an addition of one more year in your sentence. Also, if the vehicle is worth $ 200,000 two hundred thousand dollars or more, you will spend two more years.
- Penalty Increment
A harsher punishment is imposed for a felony charge where a property of high value was involved adding to the above penalties, To determine the cost of the property involved in the grand theft for enhancement, the price of all property stolen will be put together under one scheme. Sentence enhancements include:
- One more year served consecutive of your sentence for a property whose worth is $65,000
- A two-year sentence increment when the property value is $200,000 or more
- Three more years in prison for properties worth $1,300,000 or more
- A four years addition prison sentence if you stole the property of $3,200,000
- Multiple Grand Theft Charges
If you get accused of various acts of theft done against one individual, mostly an employer, you may get charged with various instances of this offense. For multiple grand theft counts that were not part of a single scheme, you will receive separate penalties for each count.
Besides the jail time, fines and probation, a conviction for grand theft will require you to pay restitution. This will be used to compensate the owner of the property for loss. This will get paid as an addition to the fines imposed during sentencing
Legal Defense against Grand Theft
If you are charged with a crime of grand theft, you will not necessarily get convicted of this offense. The prosecution must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Without showing your intention to commit the crime, the three is no grand theft charge. With the help of a competent criminal defense attorney, you can preset the following defenses to grand theft charges.
- Claim of right
The claim or right is showing a legitimate reason that the property you possessed was indeed yours. If you can prove that you had ownership of the property you are being accused of stealing; there is a chance you won’t get convicted for grand theft. Also, even if the item turns out not to be yours, you will not be convicted if you have a reasonable right why you thought otherwise.
However, it is crucial to understand that this defense is not applicable if you tried to conceal your actions before or after the truth was discovered. In the event where you had illegally possessed the property in question, the court will Barr you from presetting this defense.
- Lack of Intent
To get convicted for grand theft in California, the prosecutor must prove that you had the intent to commit the crime. Your criminal defense attorney may convince the court that you made a genuine mistake or you were misinformed; thus, you cannot be convicted.
When the property owner gave you the right to use it in a certain way. You will not get convicted for grand theft. However, how you used the property should be within the consent scope. If you got permission to use that item in a certain way, but you used it differently, you cannot present this as a defense for grand theft charges. Sometimes one may give you consent to take or use their something but later change their mind and accuse you of stealing it. If you can produce a valid proof of the owner’s consent, you will not get convicted for grand theft.
- False Accusations
This is the most common defense used for criminal cases. Many people face false accusations of fraud, embezzlement. In most cases, business deals that go wrong can result in false grand theft accusations. With the help of an attorney, you can show the extent of exaggeration from the person accusing you.
- Mistaken Identity
Grand theft does not you to get caught in the act with any property. The prosecutor will only need to show that the property taken was worth more than $950, and you were the person who committed the crime. You could claim that you got mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of the act by challenging the mental ability of the witnesses.
- Search and Seizure
Physical evidence of the crime may be obtained by searching your home or car. If the physical evidence against you was obtained illegally, you could not get charged for grand theft. If you consent to the search, the court will consider the validity of your consent scope. If the court determines that the evidence was obtained unlawfully, it will not be used in your case.
- Petty Theft
You can seek to get a reduction of penalties by presenting this defense. Petty theft has less severe consequences as compared to grand larceny. You can dispute the value of the item you obtained by claiming that it was worth less than $950.This may leave you with a petty theft charge ad get a lower sentence in return.
Difference between Grand Theft and Petty Theft
Under California Penal Code 487, the definition of grand theft is almost similar to that of the lesser charge of petty theft. However, the difference between these two lies in the property value involved in the crime. Prior tote proposition 47, you could get charged with grand theft for taking property worth less than $950 if:
- The property which you took involved an automobile
- You carried out the crime with the use of a firearm
- The properties involved in the crime were animals
- The item was received directly from the person. This could include clothes or jewelry
Grand theft penalties still apply to the above sorts of property ad circumstances if the defendant has a conviction history for a felony or is a registered sex offender. You will be charged with grand theft if you slowly take away money or personal property of your employer over time and the total value of the stolen items totals to more than $950.
Grand Theft Related Offenses
In California, there are several other similar or related offenses that can get charged with grand theft. Some of these changes include
California Penal Code 459 – Burglary
Under California criminal law, burglary is getting into a house or other building belonging to someone else to commit a misdemeanor or felony theft. Auto burglary in California is where theft takes place in a vehicle. If you are charged with burglary grand theft where you entered a building, a house, or a car to carry out the offense, you are likely to face both grand theft and burglary charges.
Even when you enter a building with the intent to steal, and you fail to succeed, you will face burglary charges as well as an attempt of grand theft. This is for getting into a property that does not belong to you. Robbery is treated as a felony which carries a sentence not exceeding three years in county jail. However, if the house you entered is currently inhabited, the penalty will be increased to 6 years.
The penalties associated with a conviction for burglary could be increased up to 7 years if you tried to get into a vault or safe place using an explosive under California burglary while using explosives.
California Penal Code 470 – Forgery
A burglary occurs if you do the following acts to commit fraud:
- Sign another person’s name without authorization
- Falsification of legal documents
- Faking a seal or another person’s signature
- Altering and presetting as real a fake document regarding money or property
If you are charged with an act of grand theft by trick or embezzlement, there you likely get additional charges of burglary. Forgery charged against grand theft is treated as a wobbler which carries a maximum penalty of one year for a misdemeanor and three years for a felony. However, if you do not have a violent felony or sex crime on your record, forgery of less than $950 is a misdemeanor.
California Penal Code 487(d)-Grand Theft Auto
You will get charged with grand theft auto if the property involved in your crime is an automobile. The less serious offense of joyriding can also be charged with grand theft and is treated as a felony.
Penal Code 484 & 488 – Petty Theft
Petty theft has almost the same definition as grand theft, but the value of property in petty theft is less than $950.You will also get charged with petty theft if the value of the property you stole is in dispute. For example, household decorations that were purchased a long time ago and have o tee appraised. Even after the jury is convinced that you are guilty of theft, they will convict you for petty theft for stealing property whose value they are not certain. California petty theft is a misdemeanor whose potential penalties are up to six years in county jail, fines not exceeding $1000 or both.
If you have any of the following prior criminal convictions, the penalties will be more severe
- A prior theft crime conviction for a theft or fraud against an elderly person
- A single theft conviction and a previous conviction for a serious felony such as murder or rape.
A robbery takes place when you take away another person’s property against their will by the use of fear or force. It is possible to get charged with both grand theft and robbery if you used violence or inflicted fear to steal property worth $950 or more.
Robbery is a felony whose potential penalty is two to six years in state prison. Also, robbery is a strike offense under the Three Strikes law. If you get faced with robbery charges, you can seek a reduction of your charge to grand theft for lesser penalties.
Penal Code 424 of California– Misappropriation of Government Funds
Wrong use of public Funds takes place when an individual who has right over the funds uses them or give them to another person without authority. The offense is often charged to government employees or any other person with authority over Public Property. Misappropriation of funds is often charged in the place of grand theft through embezzlement. However, California Penal Code 424 carries more severe penalties since it is a felony carrying a two to four years in state prison.
Find a Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Grand theft is a serious offense that attracts severe penalties. However, there are several legal defenses you can present to fight these charges. Therefore, it is crucial to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you if you get charged with this crime. At the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have top-notch expertise, and we will work to help you contest the grand theft criminal charges brought against you. Call our offices today at 714-740-7848 from any location in Orange County, and allows us to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.