Los Angeles Grand Theft Defense Attorney
California theft crimes are defined by the amount of loss and the manner in which the item of value is taken. Some Los Angeles theft crimes are misdemeanors but the majorities are considered serious enough to be charged as felonies.
Grand theft under California Penal Code Section 487(a) is defined as the illegal or unlawful taking of another person's property which is valued in excess of $950. This crime can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In most cases the prosecutor will use certain factors to determine whether to file as a misdemeanor or a felony. Some of these factors include your criminal history, the value of the item taken, whether a weapon was used, and the criminal sophistication necessary to commit the offense. Obviously, the more serious the crime, the more likely the crime will be charged as a felony.
If the item taken is valued at $950 or less, then the crime is considered a California Petty Theft in violation of Penal Code Section 484. This crime is a misdemeanor.
If you have been charged with grand theft in Los Angeles, contact the Los Angeles Theft Crimes Defense Attorney Michael Kraut. Prior to opening the Kraut Law Group, Mr. Kraut was a theft crimes prosecutor and worked for the elite Major Frauds Division of the District Attorney's Office. Contact Michael Kraut for a free confidential consultation. He can be reached at (323) 464-6453 at his Los Angeles office.
Under certain circumstances, the value of the property is not considered and the charge is almost always a felony. Some of these examples include the following:
- Grand Theft Firearm - if the item taken was a firearm
- Grand Theft Auto - if the item taken was an automobile, plane or other mode of transportation
- Certain Animals such as a horse
- Certain farm products such as avocadoes
- Grand Theft Person - Property taken when personally carried or possessed by another person.
Grand Theft can be committed by a person by either taking the property away from another person. This is called larceny and is most likely seen in a petty theft. However, grand theft can also be accomplished by taking property that has been entrusted in you, embezzlement, or by trick, theft by false pretenses.
Most prosecutors will charge a grand theft under more then one of these theories. The danger to you if the prosecutor does this is heightened because a jury need only decide that you took the property, they do not need to agree of the theory.
The jury must also decide whether the property has a value of in excess of $950 or equal to or less then that amount. If the value is more then $950, then you will be convicted of grand theft, if the jury determines the value is $950 or less, then you will be convicted of a petty theft.
In order for the prosecutor to convict you of a theft crime, he will need to prove that you had the intent to steal. This is also called a specific intent to steal. This can be proven through direct evidence, such as if you make a statement when the property was taken or some time afterwards. The prosecutor can also show the intent through circumstantial evidence. This type of evidence is equally compelling under the law. The intent can be shown in the manner you conceal the property, or what you do with it once you have possession.
Defenses to a California Grand Theft
- Right of return of the property - If the property taken was rightfully yours
- Lack of intent - If the prosecutor cannot prove that you intended to take the property
- Mistake - If the property was taken by mistake or error
Penalties for Grand Theft under California Penal Code 487 PC
California Penal Code 487 PC grand theft is a misdemeanor then the penalty is up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1000. If you are convicted of a felony grand theft, then the sentence is up to 3 years of state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
There are other allegations that may enhance this sentence. This usually has to do with the amount of the loss. For example, if the loss is in excess of $65,000 then the Court will add an additional year in prison. There are further enhancements based up additional losses.