Grand Theft – California Penal Code Section 487

The crime of grand theft is described under California Penal Code Section 487, which defines it as taking another person’s property if the total value exceeds $950. If the value of the property taken is less than $950, it’s petty theft under California Penal Code 484. Grand theft is known as a “wobbler,” meaning the Los Angeles County prosecutor can file the charges as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.

A misdemeanor conviction for grand theft carries up to one year in the county jail, but a felony conviction can result in a sentence of up to three years. A common example of grand theft occurs when someone steals expensive clothes from a department store and the value was greater than $950.

Grand theft, or grand larceny as it is also known, is the acquiring of a person or entity’s property by illegal means and without their consent. Again, in order to be considered grand theft, the value of the property taken must be at least $950 or more. Depending on the circumstances, the person accused may be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Types of grand theft crimes include grand theft auto, shoplifting, or theft of weapons, in addition to others.

The penalties for a grand theft conviction can be very serious, and can vary depending on the circumstances and the value of the property stolen. The penalties can vary with the severity of the theft. Let’s take a closer review below by our California criminal defense lawyers.

Types of Grand Theft

It’s important to note there are different types of grand theft charges. This includes grand theft by larceny, embezzlement, false pretense, and by trick. Each type of grand theft carries their own “elements of the crime” that must be proven by the prosecutor to secure a conviction.

For example, theft by larceny occurs when you steal someone’s property and moved it to another location. The prosecutor has to be able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the following elements of the crime:

  • You took possession of property owned by someone else without their consent
  • When you took the property, your intent was to keep it permanently or long enough to deprive the owner a portion of the value or enjoyment
  • You moved the property and kept it for a period of time
  • The value of the property was greater than $950; or a firearm or automobile

It should be noted that what might seem like a routine shoplifting case can frequently become a grand theft by larceny case because the property taken can quickly exceed $950.  Depending on the total value of the property stolen, there could be a penalty enhancement added to your sentence.

If the value of the property exceeded $65,000, you could be given an additional year. If the value exceeded, $200,000, an additional two years. If the value exceeded $1,300,000, an additional three years. Finally, if the value of the property exceeded $3,200,000, you could face an additional four years in a California state prison.

Related Offenses to Penal Code 487 Grand Theft

California Penal Code Section 484 – Petty Theft
California Penal Code Section 666 – Petty Theft with Prior
California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1) – Grand Theft Auto
California Penal Code Section 487(d)(2) – Grand Theft Firearm
California Penal Code Section 459 – Burglary
California Penal Code Section 211 – Robbery
California Penal Code Section 532 – Theft by False Pretenses
California Penal Code Section 470 – Forgery
California Penal Code Section 503 – Embezzlement
California Penal Code Section 424 – Misappropriation of Public Funds

Contact a Grand Theft Attorney in Los Angeles

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers could use a variety of legal defenses based on the specific circumstances of your case. Every case of Penal Code 487 grand theft is unique, but the most common defense includes an argument of lack of intent. The main element of the crime in a PC 487 grand theft offense is intent.

If we can make a reasonable argument and cast doubt that you had specific intent to steal another person’s property, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Perhaps it was an honest mistake. Grand theft requires that you unlawfully intended to take someone’s property.  We might be able to use an accident defense.

If you have been charged with grand theft crime, it is very important that you consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney immediately, as it is a very serious matter. Grand theft charges require deft and experienced handling by a skilled defense lawyer who is intimately familiar with criminal law and who can negotiate with the court.

There is a possibility if there is a conviction that alternatives to jail time can be sought, such as probation or counseling, so having a seasoned attorney representing your case may be your best chance to take advantage of those alternatives. Don’t risk a conviction that can affect the rest of your life, contact our caring and compassionate attorneys right away.