Grand theft is defined as the illegal act of taking something that belongs to another person that has a value of nine hundred and fifty (950) dollars or more. Under California law, criminal charges can be filed regardless of whether the act was a single mistake or not. If you are found guilty of grand theft, you may face severe punishments, including jail time and substantial fines.

It is crucial to seek legal counsel from a seasoned defense attorney if you are accused of grand theft. Our team at the California Criminal Lawyer Group is dedicated to assisting you with any legal issues you may be facing. We are available to assist you from anywhere in Anaheim, CA, and we will make every effort for the best possible outcome in your case.

An Overview of California Grand Theft (California Penal Code 487)

This type of theft is defined by the elements of the crime. To be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor has to prove every aspect of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt. However, these elements vary depending on the purported kind of theft. As defined by California law, grand theft falls into the following categories:

Grand Theft Through False Pretense

This occurs when you intentionally deceive another individual by convincing them and lying to them about a claim that is not right. This occurs when a defendant fabricates tales to persuade the other person to hand over their belongings to them. The deception does not have to be evident or obvious.

When you intentionally deceive someone, you could be convicted of grand theft under false pretense. Some examples include:

  • Giving them misleading information that you know isn't the truth.
  • Refusing to provide information that is necessary and which you're obligated to provide.
  • Making rash statements about anything without providing any supporting evidence.
  • Making pledges you don't intend to keep.

To be found guilty of grand theft, the victim should have surrendered their belongings to the defendant based on the false information provided. However, these are not the only factors on which the victim should have based his or her conclusion.

The following information should be provided by the prosecutor if you have been charged with grand theft through deception:

  • You provided forged documentation to third parties.
  • Witnesses' accounts.
  • Writing that is merely deceptive and needs your approval or signature.

This evidence will be helpful in the suppression of false accusations. Some individuals take part in transactions involving the transfer of property but afterward have second thoughts.

Grand Theft Through Tricks

It is considered grand theft through tricks when:

  • You deliberately seized possession of someone else's property.
  • You used deception to take property from someone who had a legal right to it.
  • You took possession of the property to either permanently or temporarily separate it from its rightful owner.
  • The owner had no intention of giving you possession of the property.

Grand theft through false pretense and grand theft through tricks are similar in various ways. While the legal owner of the property grants you ownership under the circumstances of grand theft through pretense, they are unaware of this under the circumstances of grand theft through tricks.

Grand Theft Through Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a serious crime that can lead to charges of grand theft. The elements of a grand theft through embezzlement case are as follows:

  • The owner entrusted you with possession of the property.
  • That property is entirely within your control.
  • You illegally exploited the property in question for your benefit.

You intended to keep it hidden from its owner for a while. It's critical to keep in mind that you could face legal action for grand theft even if your initial intentions were to return the item.

The court does not have to agree with the specific premise by which you committed the offense if it finds that you stole from more than one area of a grand theft crime. However, they have to agree on the type of grand theft you perpetrated. If they're not able to achieve this, you'll be accused of a lesser crime known as petty theft.

The prosecution could be able to prove that you committed grand theft in several different ways, and if so, you could be subject to the harsh punishments that go along with these charges. Therefore, to defend yourself in a grand theft case, you should retain the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Grand Theft Using Larceny

Larceny is defined as the illegal act of taking someone else's property without the owner's permission. This occurs when you seize possession of the item in question and take it out from the owner's possession to keep it for a long time and deprive the owner of having access to it.

You will have deprived the owner of any enjoyment they could have had from the item. Although certain crimes appear to be simple, such as shoplifting, they can result in grand theft charges if the item's value exceeds $950.

Penalties for Grand Theft Crime

California grand theft punishments and fines vary depending on the kind of grand theft allegations you're facing, the facts of the case, and the defendant's criminal history.

Under California Penal Code 487, grand theft is often tried as a wobbler offense, meaning that the prosecutor can choose to charge the crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The charges for which you'll be held accountable for grand theft could depend on your criminal history.

Grand theft is punishable by not more than one year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor. If you have previously been convicted of a felony offense, you could still face felony charges even if the item you stole is only worth $950 or less. If you're found guilty of a felony crime, you could serve up to a year behind bars and be sentenced to probation. When no firearms were involved in the offense, you could face a jail term ranging from sixteen months to three years behind bars.

Grand theft convictions lead to probation sentences, which typically last 12 months. You will be required to abide by several probation requirements, including keeping in touch with your probation officer regularly, refraining from additional illegal activities, and refraining from associating with recognized offenders while on probation.

Penalties for Firearm-Related Grand Theft

If you commit grand theft while using a weapon to threaten or coerce someone, you could be charged with a felony grand theft crime. Under no circumstances is a misdemeanor conviction possible. A California state jail sentence for this crime could be as long as sixteen months, two years, or a maximum of three years. Contrary to other forms of grand theft, using a weapon while committing a crime is punishable as a felony crime.

Penalties for Grand Theft Auto

California grand theft auto can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the severity of your punishment can vary based on your criminal history. Grand theft auto convictions are often punishable by a minimum of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail, as well as a hefty fine of no less than $10,000 or both.

If a vehicle involved in the crime has a value of $65,000 or more, you will serve an additional year in jail, under California law. Furthermore, you will be required to serve time for an additional 2 years if the vehicle is worth $200,000 or more.

Enhanced Penalties for Grand Theft

A criminal violation involving high-value property has a harsher sentence in addition to the previously mentioned penalties. To determine the worth of items involved in the grand theft for sentence enhancements, the worth of all stolen things will be merged into one plan.

Sentence enhancements include:

  • If the property was worth $65,000, you would receive an additional year in prison.
  • The penalty is extended by an additional two years if the property's value is $200,000 or more.
  • You will receive another three years of imprisonment for properties worth $1,300,000 or more.
  • If the property you seized was worth more than $3,200,000, you would face an additional four years in prison.

Several Grand Theft Charges

You can face multiple charges of this offense if you're charged with committing multiple crimes against a single individual, usually an employer.

For every count of grand theft that didn't occur as part of a single conspiracy, you will be subject to individual penalties.

In addition to a jail sentence, fines, and probation, a grand theft charge could call for the defendant to pay restitution. The property owner could use this to make up for their losses. The payment of this fee is in addition to any fines assessed during the sentencing procedure.

Legal Defenses for Grand Theft Charges

If you are arrested for grand theft, you will not necessarily face charges for the offense. The prosecutor needs to prove each element of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt. If you can demonstrate that you had no intent to perpetrate the crime, there won't be any grand theft charges.

With the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you can develop the appropriate defenses against accusations of grand theft.

You Claimed The Right To The Alleged Property

A claim of right is evidence of a justifiable reason why the possession you had was yours. If you can prove you possessed ownership rights to the object you're accused of stealing, you could be exonerated from the allegations of grand theft. Furthermore, if you have a strong reason to believe otherwise, you will not be held guilty, even if it turns out that the object was not yours.

It's crucial to take note that this defense is ineffective if you tried to conceal your actions before or after the truth came to light. If you obtained the object in question illegally, the court would restrict you from making use of the argument.


You cannot be accused of grand theft and convicted of the crime if the property's owner permitted you to use it in a certain way. However, the agreement has to address how you intend to utilize the item in question.

If you had permission to use the property in one way and then used it differently, you cannot use this as a defense to counter the charges of grand theft. It is possible for someone to later change their mind and claim that you illegally took something after they have given you consent to borrow or use it. If you can provide convincing evidence of the property owner's consent, you will not be convicted of grand theft.

There is No Intent

For you to be charged with grand theft, the prosecution has to prove that you intended to commit the crime. Your defense attorney might be able to convince the magistrate that you made an honest error or that you were misinformed so that you cannot be held accountable for grand theft.

False Allegations

This serves as one of the most widely used legal arguments in criminal cases. Many people fall victim to being wrongfully accused of committing fraud and embezzlement. False grand theft allegations may arise from business dealings gone wrong. With the aid of an attorney, you can prove the extent to which the victim has exaggerated their claims.

Mistaken Identity

You don't have to be found in possession of any stolen property to be charged with grand theft. It will only be necessary for prosecutors to prove that you were the offender and that the stolen items had a worth of at least $950. You could challenge the eyewitnesses' mental capacity and claim that you were mistakenly accused of the crime.

Unlawful Search and Seizure Operation

The police can inspect your home or car to find tangible evidence of the crime. If the physical evidence used against you is obtained illegally, you can't be charged with grand theft. The court would consider the authenticity of your permission scope when you complied with the police search. If the court determines that the results were obtained unlawfully, they cannot be used in the proceedings.

It Was a Petty Theft Crime

You could try to have the penalty reduced by using this legal argument. Petty theft carries fewer legal penalties than grand larceny. You could challenge the value of the item by claiming that it was only listed for less than $950. Petty theft charges could be brought against you, which would result in a lighter sentence.

What Is the Difference Between Petty Theft and Grand Theft?

According to PEN 487, the definition of grand theft sounds similar to the lesser offense of petty theft. The difference between the two crimes is the cost of the possession that was stolen. Before the enactment of Prop 47, stealing items worth less than $950 could have resulted in grand theft charges if:

  • You stole something that had to do with an automobile.
  • You used a weapon while committing the crime.
  • Among the items stolen during the offense's commission were animals.
  • The item was taken from the victim's body. This could involve jewelry or clothing.

Grand theft charges still apply to the aforementioned types of items and events, even if the defendant has a history of felony charges or is found guilty of a sex crime. You will be found guilty of grand theft if you illegally take money or other valuables from your employer over some time and the total value of the stolen goods exceeds $950.

Offenses Related To Grand Theft

California grand theft offenses are punishable by several other related or comparable acts. The following are some of the crimes:


Breaking into someone else's house or other property with the intent to commit a misdemeanor or felony larceny is referred to as burglary. Auto burglary is referred to as theft that occurs in a vehicle. When you're accused of grand theft or burglary and enter a building, a home, or an automobile to perpetrate the offense, you will undoubtedly be charged with both offenses.

You could be apprehended and face charges of attempted grand theft and burglary even if you gained access to the facility with the intent to steal but were unsuccessful. It is used to get access to properties that do not belong to you. Robbery is regarded as a crime, and the maximum sentence is three years in a county jail. When the property you broke into was occupied at the time of the crime's commission, your sentence would be increased to 6 years.

If you were found guilty of California burglary while using explosives and tried to get access to a vault or safe, you could be sentenced to 7 years behind bars.


A forgery crime is committed when one of the following fraud-related crimes is carried out:

  • Using another person's identity without their consent.
  • Forgery of government paperwork.
  • Falsifying a seal or forging another person's signature.
  • Altering and offering up forged documentation involving money or property as genuine.

If you have been charged with grand theft by deceit or embezzlement, there is a good chance that you will also face charges for breaking. Most grand theft cases involve forgery, which carries a maximum term of one year for misdemeanor charges and three years for a felony. When you do not have a sex crime or violent offense on your record, falsifying information worth less than $950 is regarded as a misdemeanor.

Grand Theft Auto

If an automobile is involved in your actions, grand theft auto charges will be brought against you. Joyriding is a somewhat less serious crime that is punishable as a felony charge and could be punished as grand theft.

Petty Theft

This crime is defined similarly to grand theft, except the value of the item stolen in cases of petty theft is less than $950.

You could face legal action for petty theft if the item's value is disputed. For example, the home's decor could have been purchased years ago and has to be evaluated. The jury will find you guilty of petty theft if you take something whose value is unknown, even if they feel you're criminally responsible for the theft. California petty theft is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six years in county jail, up to $1,000 in penalties, or both.

If you have been convicted of any of the following crimes in the past, the penalties could be substantially harsher:

  • A prior theft conviction for deceiving or stealing from an elderly person.
  • A single theft conviction and a serious prior felony conviction, such as rape or murder.

When you use coercion or force to take another person's property without that person's permission, that is considered robbery. You can be charged with both grand theft and robbery if you used force or caused fear to steal objects worth $950 or more.

Robbery is considered a serious felony that can result in a sentence of 2 to 6 years in jail. The California Three Strikes Law also considers robbery to be a strike offense. If you've been accused of robbery, you can ask that the allegations be reduced to charges of grand theft, which carries less serious repercussions.

Misappropriation of Public Funds

When someone with access to government funds uses them or transfers them to another person without permission, this is known as misappropriation of funds. People who are in charge of government property or who work for the government are commonly charged with this offense. The improper use of public resources frequently serves as a substitute for grand theft through embezzlement. The penalties are more severe since California PEN 424 is a felony punishable by between two and four years in prison.

Contact a Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Grand theft is a serious crime that carries severe consequences. Unfortunate circumstances could lead to legal issues where you may have to defend yourself and prove your innocence. However, you have several legal options available to you to challenge these allegations. If you have been charged with this offense, it is crucial to seek the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney who can effectively represent you.

At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, our attorneys will work tirelessly to help you fight the grand theft charges brought against you. With our skills and experience, we are confident in our ability to provide you with the necessary assistance in this matter. Contact us today at 714-766-0965 from anywhere in Anaheim, California, to discover how we can assist you in achieving the best possible outcome for your case.