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In California, grand theft is the wrongful taking of the property of another with a value of over $950. There are several other types of grand theft that do not depend upon the value of the property. The theft of a car (called grand theft auto), theft of a firearm (called grand theft firearm), theft of property from someone's person (such as a wallet or money in someone's pocket), and the theft of larger farm animals such as sheep, cattle, horses and pigs are all considered grand theft regardless of the dollar value of the item. Certain other items only need to have a value of $250 when taken to be considered grand theft, such as domestic birds, fruit and vegetables, and fish and shellfish. Grand theft can also include taking the services of another where the labor is valued at over $950. Tricking another into giving you property, and taking property that was entrusted to you can also constitute theft.
Grand theft may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. This depends on the facts of your case, especially the value of the property that was allegedly stolen and whether this is the first time you have been charged with a crime. If charged as a misdemeanor, you may still face up to a year in jail. If the amount taken is over $65,000, sentencing enhancements can apply that increase the length of a jail sentence. Grand theft firearm must be charged as a felony, and is considered a "strike" under California's "three strikes" sentencing laws. Multiple acts of theft may be charged as separate counts, but a defense attorney may argue that, if the acts were all part of the same plan or pattern of conduct, the multiple acts should all be charged as one count.
As with any type of theft, the intent to permanently take the property is key. If the prosecution cannot show that you took the property of another intentionally and with the belief that the property belonged to another, then the intent requirement of this crime does not exist. If a jury finds the necessary intent but cannot agree that the property in question was over $950 in value, you may be charged with petty theft as a lesser-included offense.
The law of theft is complex, and grand theft is a serious charge. Representation by an experienced Orange County grand theft defense attorney can make a significant difference in the type and number of charges you face, as well as sentencing. The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. has represented people charged with grand theft and other crimes for almost 40 years. For a confidential evaluation of your case, call us today at (949) 662-1791.