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In Los Angeles, if you steal another person’s property, you will be charged with theft. Grand theft is the criminal act described in California Penal Code 487 PC. Grand theft refers to taking physical possession of another person’s tangible property, worth $950 or more, with the intent to deprive its rightful owner of its use. The analogous crime petty theft, described in California Penal Code Section 484(a) PC and 488 PC, applies to tangible property worth less than $950. In some states, the term “larceny” is used instead of the term “theft” to describe this crime.
Grand theft is a charge that should be taken seriously since it can carry stiff penalties, and a conviction can pose serious consequences for many parts of your life. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can help you protect your legal rights and may be able to put together a strategy that will help you attain the best outcome that’s possible for you under the circumstances.
Grand Theft Penalties
Grand theft can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecutor’s discretion unless the crime involves the theft of a firearm, in which case the theft must be charged as a felony, and penalties may include a state prison sentence of up to three years. Additionally, even if the theft involved property valued less than $950, grand theft penalties will apply in cases where the perpetrator is a registered sex offender or has previous felony convictions for serious crimes such as murder, child molestation, or acts involving sexual violence.
Penalties for misdemeanor grand theft can include a county jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties for felony grand theft can include a county jail sentence of up to one year with felony probation or a county jail sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $10,000.
In cases where the theft involved items of particularly high monetary value, however, perpetrators may receive additional state prison sentences, which must be served consecutively. For items with a value of more than $65,000, the penalty enhancement will be a year in a state prison; for items with a value of more than $3,200,000, the penalty enhancement will be four years in state prison.
In addition to grand theft, the California Penal Code recognizes other types of theft:
• Theft by false pretenses
California Penal Code 532 PC makes it illegal to use a misrepresentation of the facts to convince someone to give you their property. Although the gift may be voluntary, the fact that the gift was prompted by false pretenses makes the act a type of theft in the eyes of the law. Depending on the value of the property involved, theft by false pretenses can be petty theft or grand theft. Theft by false pretenses carries penalties that are similar to grand theft.
• Theft by trick
Theft by trick is similar to theft by false pretenses except that it involves possession of stolen property but not ownership of stolen property. It is described in California Penal Code 484 PC.
Robbery is a criminal act described in California Penal Code 211 that makes it illegal to take someone’s personal property through the use or threat of force. Robbery is prosecuted as a felony in California.
A grand theft conviction carries penalties, but just as importantly, it will become part of the public record so it can have a serious impact on the subsequent quality of your life in Los Angeles. If you’ve been accused of grand theft, speak with an experienced criminal law attorney who can help you protect your legal rights in this matter.