According to California criminal law, you could be charged with grand theft when you illegally take somebody else's property worth 950 dollars or more. If the property you took fits the grand theft value criterion, a seemingly minor crime like shoplifting could result in grand theft conviction charges. Being charged with grand theft conviction can negatively impact your personal and professional life. However, this does not have to be the case. If you or someone you know is facing grand theft charges, retaining our services at the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm is among the best actions you can take. We do our best to represent clients facing criminal charges in the Pasadena area.

The Definition of California Grand Theft Under Penal Code 487

The elements of this criminal offense are used to describe this form of theft. The prosecution must establish every element of the offense beyond a shadow of a doubt to be charged with this crime. These factors, however, are dependent on the type of theft alleged. Below are the various categories of grand theft under CA law:

Grand Theft By False Pretense

Grand theft using pretense is committed when you purposely deceive another person by lying and convincing them of something that isn't true. This happens when you make up lies to convince the other party to give you their possessions. The pretense doesn't need to be obvious. You could be charged with grand theft through false pretense when you willfully deceived another person by:

  • Presenting them with information you know is false

  • Refusal to submit crucial information that you are required to give

  • Making rash claims about something with no proof that it's accurate

  • Making a promise that you do not plan to keep

To be convicted of a grand theft offense, the offender should have turned over their possessions to you based on the deceptive information you gave. However, it's not the only details on which they must base their decisions. If you have been accused of theft by deception, the prosecution should present the following evidence:

  • You gave a falsified document to another party

  • Witnesses' testimonies

  • Writing that simply means pretense and requires your signature or confirmation

This proof will help in the prevention of false allegations. Some people are engaged in transactions that include the transfer of possessions and then afterward change their minds.

Grand Theft By Trick

It’s regarded as grand theft using trickery when:

  • You intentionally took control of something that belonged to someone else

  • You took another person's possessions from their rightful owner by deception

  • You seized the item to keep it from its owner, either temporarily or indefinitely

  • The property's owner had no intention of transferring the item to your person

Grand theft using tricks is somewhat related to grand theft by pretense. Although under grand theft by pretense, the property's owner gives you ownership, while under grand theft using trickery, they're unaware that their acts would transfer its possession.

Grand Theft Through Larceny

Obtaining possession of another person's property without consent is regarded as theft through larceny. You seized the property and removed it from the owner's immediate person to hold it for an extended period and deny him or her access to it. By doing so, you have taken away the owner's pleasure in the object. Even if some acts, like shoplifting, seem to be easy, they can lead to charges of grand theft when the object's value surpasses 950 dollars.

Grand Theft By Embezzlement

When you perpetrate theft through embezzlement, you will be charged with grand theft. The following are the components of grand theft by embezzlement case:

  • The owner of the property entrusted you with that property

  • You were given absolute control over that property

  • You unlawfully used that property for your gain

For a while, you meant to keep it from the owner. It's vital to remember that even if you intended to surrender the item after a while, you could still be prosecuted with grand theft.

When the court determines that you perpetrated theft involving more than one section of a grand theft crime, they don't have to concur on the particular theory through which you perpetrated the offense. They must, nevertheless, agree on the form of grand theft you committed. If they are unable to do this, you will be charged with a petty theft offense, which is a lower offense.

The prosecution can demonstrate that you perpetrated grand theft in a variety of ways, and you could face the serious penalties that come with these allegations. As a result, you need to hire the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you in your grand theft issue.

Penalties for California Grand Theft

Grand theft sentences and fines in California differ based on the type of grand theft charges you're facing, the specifics of the case, as well as your criminal background.

Penalties for Wobbler Grand Theft

Grand theft is usually prosecuted as a wobbler violation under California PC 487, which means that the prosecution can pursue it as a misdemeanor or a felony. Your criminal background can determine the kind of charges you will face for grand theft. Grand theft is punishable by up to 1 year in local jail if tried as a misdemeanor. Even though the item you took is worth below $950, you could be prosecuted with a felony when you have a previous felony charge.

If you are convicted of felony grand theft, you'll face probation as well as a term of no more than one year in prison. When no weapons were used in the crime, you might face a sentence of 16 months to 3 years in jail.

If you are convicted of grand theft, you'll be sentenced to probation, which is usually 12 months. You'll be expected to follow certain probation rules such as contacting your probationary officer regularly, avoiding further unlawful acts, and not interacting with recognized criminals while being on probation.

Penalties for Grand Theft Involving a Firearm

You will be prosecuted with felony grand theft if you perpetrate an offense of grand theft while using a firearm to instill intimidation or force. There is no possibility of a misdemeanor theft conviction under any circumstances. This offense has a potential term of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in California state prison. Theft using a firearm, unlike other types of grand theft, is punished as a serious felony.

Grand Theft Auto Penalties

Grand theft could be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor in California, and the seriousness of your penalties may be determined by your criminal background. When prosecuted as a felony offense, grand theft auto usually carries a term of Sixteen months, 2 years, or three years in prison, and a fine of at least $10,000 or both. According to California law, when the automobile implicated in the offense is valued at $65,000 or above, you will receive an additional year in prison. Furthermore, if the automobile is valued at $ 200,000 or maybe more, you will have to spend another 2 years.

Grand Theft Enhanced Penalties

In addition to the above consequences, a felony offense involving a high-value property carries a stiffer penalty. To establish the value of the items in the grand theft for penalty enhancements, the value of all stolen items will be combined into one scheme. Enhancements to sentences include:

  • One additional year to your sentencing served consecutively for a $65,000 property

  • When the value of the property is $200,000 or higher, the penalty is enhanced by two years

  • For properties valued at $1,300,000 and maybe more, you'll get three additional years in a California prison

  • If you stole $3,200,000 worth of property, you will face an additional four years in prison

Several Counts of Grand Theft

If you are accused of many acts of stealing against one person, usually your employer, you could be charged with multiple counts of this crime.

You will face individual punishments for every charge of grand theft that was not committed within a single conspiracy.

A charge for grand theft can result in you having to make compensation in addition to the jail term, fines, as well as probation. This can be utilized to pay the property owner for their losses. This will be paid on top of the fines issued throughout the sentencing process.

Possible Legal Defenses in Grand Theft Cases

If you have been accused of grand theft, you'll not necessarily be charged with the crime. The components of the offense must be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by the prosecution. There will be no charges of grand theft if you prove that you intended to commit the offense.

You can prepare the necessary defenses for grand theft allegations with the support of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Claim of Right

A claim or right is demonstrating a legitimate cause that the item you owned was yours. There's a possibility that you will not be found guilty of grand theft when you can show you had property rights of the item you're charged with stealing. Furthermore, even though the item is later shown that it was not yours, you won't be found guilty when you have a good cause for believing otherwise.

It's important to note, nevertheless, that this argument does not apply if you attempted to hide your acts before or even after the facts were uncovered. The court will prevent you from using this defense if you had unlawfully acquired the item in question.

No Intent

The prosecution will need to demonstrate that you had the intention of committing the offense to charge you with California grand theft. Your criminal defense lawyer could be able to persuade the judge that you committed an honest mistake or you had been misinformed, and therefore you can't be charged with grand theft.


If the owner of the property permitted you to utilize it in a specific manner you cannot be charged and found guilty of grand theft. However, how you were using the item should be covered by the agreement.

You cannot employ this as a legal defense for grand theft accusations if you got approval to utilize the property in a specific way and then utilized it in another way. When someone gives you permission to borrow or utilize something, they may subsequently change their minds and allege that you stole it. You won't be charged with grand theft when you can show solid proof of the item's owner's authorization.

False Accusations

This is one of the most commonly utilized legal defenses in criminal proceedings. Many people are falsely accused of embezzlement and fraud. Business transactions that go awry sometimes result in falsified grand theft claims. You can demonstrate the depth of the accuser's exaggeration with the assistance of a lawyer.

Mistaken Identity

A grand theft offense does not require you to be apprehended with any stolen item. The prosecution will simply need to establish that the stolen property was valued at more than 950 dollars and also that you were the perpetrator. You could argue that you were wrongly identified as the offender of the crime by questioning the witnesses' mental capacity.

Illegal Search and Seizure

The authorities can gather physical proof of the offense by examining your house or vehicle. You cannot be prosecuted with grand theft when the physical proof against you was acquired unlawfully. The court will assess the legitimacy of your authorization scope when you agreed to the police search. The findings can not be utilized in the case when the court concludes that it was acquired illegally.

Petty Theft

You can use this legal defense to try to get the penalties reduced. When contrasted with grand larceny, petty theft has reduced legal consequences. You have the option of disputing the item's worth by arguing that it was priced at less than 950 dollars. You could be charged with petty theft and receive a reduced sentence as a result.

What is the Difference Between Grand Theft and Petty Theft?

The description of grand theft according to California PC 487 is nearly identical to the lesser crime of petty theft. The distinction between the two offenses is the value of the item stolen in the act. Before Proposition 47 was passed, you could be prosecuted for grand theft for stealing goods valued below 950 dollars if:

  • The item you stole involved a vehicle

  • You committed the crime while armed with a firearm

  • Animals were among the properties stolen during the commission of the crime

The property was stolen from the victim's person. This could be anything from clothing to jewelry.

If the accused has a previous felony charge background or is a convicted sex offender, grand theft charges still extend to the aforementioned forms of items and circumstances. If you steal money or other items from your employer throughout a period and the combined worth of the taken items exceeds $950, you'll be convicted of grand theft.

Crimes Related To Grand Theft

There are multiple more comparable or related actions that can be charged as grand theft in California. Among the offenses are:

Burglary — California Penal Code 459

Burglary is defined as breaking into another person's home or other structure to perpetrate a felony or misdemeanor larceny. California auto burglary is defined as theft happening in an automobile. You will inevitably face both burglary and grand theft charges when you have been accused of burglary or grand theft and accessed a building, a residence, or a vehicle to commit the crime.

Even if you access a property intending to steal and do not succeed, you will be arrested and charged with burglary and attempted grand theft. It is for gaining access to premises that are not yours. Robbery is considered a crime that carries a maximum punishment of 3 years in a local jail. The sentence will be enhanced to six years when the residence you invaded is currently occupied.

If you attempted to break into a safe or vault with explosives, you could face a seven-year prison sentence if you were convicted of California burglary for using explosives.

Forgery — California Penal Code 470

A burglary offense occurs when you perpetrate fraud by executing the following acts:

  • Sign someone else's name without their permission

  • Forgery of legal documentation

  • Forging a seal or someone else's signature

  • Changing and presenting a fraudulent document involving money or assets as real

If you have been accused of grand theft by deception or embezzlement, you will almost certainly be prosecuted with burglary as well. Forgery is considered a wobbler throughout most grand theft cases, with a maximum sentence of 1 year for a misdemeanor crime and 3 years for a felony offense. Falsification of below $950 is considered a misdemeanor when you don't have a violent crime charge or a sex offense on your criminal record.

Grand Theft Auto — California Penal Code 487(d)

If the item implicated in your offense is a vehicle, you will be prosecuted with grand theft auto. Joyriding is a rather less severe offense that can be prosecuted as grand theft and penalized as a felony offense.

Petty Theft — California Penal Codes 484 and 488

Petty theft has a relatively similar definition to grand theft, although the worth of the item in petty theft cases is below $950.

If the worth of the item you took is contested, you will be prosecuted for petty theft. Household decor, for instance, was bought a long while ago and needs to be assessed. Even if the jury believes you are criminally liable for theft, they'll find you culpable of petty theft when you steal something whose worth is unknown. Petty theft in California is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 years in the local jail, and fines of up to a thousand dollars, or both.

The consequences will be much harsher when you have one of the following previous criminal charges:

  • A previous theft criminal conviction for stealing from or defrauding an elderly individual

  • One theft conviction with a prior record for a major felony, like rape or murder

A robbery occurs when you utilize intimidation or force to seize someone else's possessions without their consent. If you employed violence or instilled panic to steal items valued at $950 or above, you could be prosecuted with both robbery and grand theft. Robbery is a serious crime that can land you in state jail for 2 to 6 years. Robbery is also a strike violation under the California Three Strikes Law. If you have been charged with robbery, you could request for the case to be reduced to grand theft, which has less severe consequences.

California Penal Code 424 — Misappropriation of Public Funds

Inappropriate use of government funds occurs when someone with power over these funds makes use or gives them to someone else without authorization. Government employees and anyone with responsibility for government property are frequently prosecuted for this crime. Grand theft by embezzlement is frequently replaced by the misappropriation of public funds. However, because California PC 424 is considered a felony offense punishable by 2 to 4 years in California state prison, the consequences are more severe.

Find a Pasadena Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

A grand theft offense is a major crime with significant consequences. One unfortunate event could have you before a court of law trying to defend your case and prove your innocence. However, you have various legal options to defend yourself against these accusations. If you have been accused of this crime, you need to seek a competent criminal defense lawyer to defend you. At the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we have the knowledge and experience, and our attorneys will tirelessly work to assist you in contesting the grand theft criminal accusations filed against you. Give us a call today at 626-628-0564 from anywhere in Pasadena to let us help you get the best possible result for your case.