What You Need to Know About Grand Theft Laws in California

In California, grand theft is a very serious crime. Increased security measures and surveillance technology in shopping malls, stores, and on the road has led to a general increase in grand theft charges. Here’s everything you need to know about grand theft laws in California.

California Penal Code 487 defines grand theft as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property, specifically when the property is worth above $950. Grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

Have you been charged with grand theft? Contact a Pride Legal Grand Theft Attorney today!

Legal Definition of Grand Theft in California

Grand theft laws in California are very strict California, there are different forms of grand theft, including the following:

Theft By Larceny

Theft by larceny is the most common type of grand theft. Under California law, theft by larceny occurs when the defendant

  • unlawfully took someone else’s property.
  • took the owner’s property without his or her permission
  • Moved someone else’s property, even for a short time, and kept it without the owner’s permission

Example of Theft By Larceny

Nathan owns a pair of night vision goggles worth $1,200. Max, 16, is Nathan’s classmate. Max is jealous that Nathan can afford such an item, considering that he wants night vision goggles himself. While studying at Nathan’s house, Max secretly stuffs the night vision goggles into his backpack, planning to return the goggles to Nathan after he is done using them. Max takes the item home, plays with it for a few days, and stores it in his closet. After a few months, Nathan realizes Max took the goggles. Max can be charged with grand theft by larceny.

Theft By False Pretense

Under California Penal Code 532, theft by false pretense occurs when:

  • The defendant Intentionally and knowingly lies to the property owner
  • For the purpose of persuading them to give you the property AND
  • The owner gives the defendant the property under the false pretenses

Example of Theft by False Pretense

Aviv places his car for sale online. Thomas, a prospective buyer, gives a surprisingly high offer on the vehicle. Aviv accepts the offer. Thomas and Aviv meet at a coffee shop, where Thomas gives Aviv a check to cash in exchange for the vehicle. Aviv goes to the bank to cash the check, only to be told that the check is fake. Aviv tries to contact Thomas from all possible platforms, but he is nowhere to be reached. Thomas can be charged with grand theft by false pretense.

False pretenses are made when an individual:

  • Purposefully gives an individual false information
  • Says something is true without certainly knowing if it is definitely true
  • Does not provide critical information when he or she should have
  • Makes false promises

Theft By Embezzlement

A form of “white collar crime”theft by embezzlement occurs when:

  • A property owner places trust in the defendant
  • The defendant took advantage of the property owner’s trust for their own benefit
  • The defendant took or used the property while depriving the owner of the property

Example of Theft By Embezzlement

Katie is the manager of an expensive car dealership. She wants an expensive car to drive for a few days while her friend is in town. Katie takes a car from the dealership, and plans to return it the following day. Katie can be charged with grand theft by embezzlement.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has been charged with grand theft, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.