Criminal Defense Law Firm

Petty and Grand Theft Defense Lawyer

The crime of theft is taking someone else's property without their permission. The law defines several types of theft, each depending on the property's value.

Petty theft is a misdemeanor involving stealing property worth $950 or less. Grand theft is a more severe crime involving stealing more than $950. Several other differences exist between these types of theft, including the penalties.

Grand Theft

Grand theft, Penal Code 487 PC , will be the charge not only for property valued at greater than $950 but also for any firearm or vehicle and any property taken directly from a victim. Grand theft is a wobbler case, meaning it could be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Some examples that could constitute grand theft include breaking into a property after hours, whether a home or a retail establishment and taking thousands of dollars worth of items. It would also include shoplifting when the value exceeds $950.

Grand theft could also be tied in with embezzlement if an employee takes a substantial amount of money from their employer. Employers who take cash, labor, or property from an employee or agent exceeding $950 could also be charged with grand theft.

Misdemeanor grand theft earns up to one year in county jail. Someone charged with felony grand theft might face up to three years in prison, as well as fines, based on the circumstances.

Petty Theft

Penal Code 494(a) PC covers petty theft, making taking someone else's property worth $950 or less illegal. Prosecutors need to prove that the defendant took property belonging to someone else and did so without the owner's consent, just like with grand theft. They need to verify that the defendant intended to take the property permanently and show that it changed location for some time, even if only a short distance.

For example, someone who takes an electronic device from their roommate and hides or keeps it in their room with the intent to keep it would be charged with petty theft—even if they only take the property for a short period.

Petty theft can result in incarceration in the county jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000. In some cases, such as when the defendant has no criminal history, the judge may give them summary probation rather than jail time. This conviction could be expunged after the defendant completes probation or jail time.

Potential Defenses for Theft Cases

Several defenses could work in petty and grand theft cases. First, it would be an excellent legal defense if the accused acted with the property owner's consent. The prosecution must prove that the owner did not give permission, a weaker position.

Additionally, if the defendant can show that they were borrowing the property and did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of it, it could be used as a defense. However, borrowing implies returning after a reasonable period. Someone who takes property and only claims they borrowed it for a long time would not likely benefit from this defense.

The defendant could claim a right to the property they took, even shakily, to justify their action. Other defenses include taking back property that belongs to you or that the accusation is false. If the property belongs to you and you never gave it to the other party, no one should accuse you of theft for taking it back.

Contact an Attorney for Your Theft Case Today

Do you have theft charges you are facing? You want to go to court with the guidance of an experienced defense attorney who can help you with your petty or grand theft case. Working with the attorneys from Gasner Law will give you the peace of mind you need. Contact us by calling 415-782-6000 today.