Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft

California law defines theft as any unlawful taking of someone else's property. This can be a very broad interpretation, making it one of largest categories of crimes. Fraud, identity theft, embezzlement, grand theft auto, and shoplifting can all be considered theft crimes in some way.

Grand theft and petty theft are some of the most basic theft crime charges an individual can face. Both are essentially the same crime, but refer to the value of the property stolen during the alleged offense. As a result, there are differing penalties and consequences for each crime.

What constitutes as grand theft?

The first step to determining if a crime will be charged as grand theft is to calculate the value of the property taken. If the property's value is $950 or higher, the offense will be charged as grand theft. If the amount excessively exceeds $950, the theft may be charged as a felony, even for a first offense. Conviction for grand theft can result in up to three years in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. Other penalties can include probation and a lifetime ban from the establishment where the theft occurred.

What constitutes as petty theft?

As a misdemeanor, petty theft is considered a less severe crime. However, there are still many serious consequences that come with a petty theft conviction, including up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. So what is petty theft? The theft of any property valued at less than $950 can result in petty theft charges. Keep in mind, certain items under $950 can still be charged as grand theft, such as a firearm of any value, a motor vehicle, and agricultural products or livestock.

Accused of theft? You need to act fast to build your defense! Call the Bakersfield criminal attorneys at The Law Offices of Joe W. Whittington to learn about your defense options.