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In California, grand larceny, also known as grand theft, is theft of property valued at more than $950. It is a ‘wobbler’ crime, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Larceny crimes vary and include

  • Shoplifting,
  • Embezzlement,
  • Theft under false pretenses, such as if you pretend to be someone you are not with the intention of gaining access to another person’s property,
  • Theft by trickery, and
  • Breaking into houses or cars to steal.
Exceptions to the $950 rule

Theft with certain priors

If you have a conviction record for serious crimes such as murder, child molestation, sexual offences or rape, you can be charged with grand theft for stealing property valued at less than $950, if the property is a firearm, automobile, certain animals or if the property was taken off a person.

Example: Let’s say you steal a very old car that’s valued at $400, but you are also a registered sex offender. Though the value of the item is below $950, the fact that it’s an automobile and that you are a registered sex offender, automatically escalates the charge to grand larceny.

Small amounts stolen over a 12 month period

Example: If you steal a small amount of money periodically from your employer and you eventually get caught after a few months, if the total amount of money you’ve stolen is more than $950, you’ll be charged with grand larceny.

Other related offenses

Grand theft firearm: Theft of a firearm is a ‘strike’ offense under penal code 1192.7 (c) PC and is always charged as a felony.

Petty theft: This is theft of amounts lower than $950. It’s a misdemeanor offence but can be charged as a felony offence if you have priors.

Grand theft auto: Just like grand theft firearm, it’s a serious offence that’s charged as a felony. Even if you were joyriding in the stolen vehicle, you could still be charged with grand theft auto.

Burglary: Penal code 59 PC defines burglary as going into a building to commit grand larceny or petty theft. If instead of a building you enter a car with the intention of stealing, this is known as auto burglary.

If for instance you commit the crime of larceny but a car or a house are involved, you might be charged with both grand larceny and burglary or auto-burglary.

Robbery: If you use force to take something from a person, this is termed as robbery. Assuming you take an item valued at more than $950 from someone, you could be charged with both robbery and grand larceny.

Penalties For grand Larceny
  • If charged with misdemeanor grand larceny, you could serve a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail.
  • For felony grand theft, you could serve a sentence of between 16 months to 3 years in a county jail, or 1 year in county jail and felony probation. Grand larceny involving a firearm will attract steeper penalties.
  • For theft of a firearm, you’ll serve between 16 months to 3 years in state prison.

If charged with grand larceny in addition to the following crimes, you will receive a longer sentence as follows:

  • Burglary carries a 3-year county jail sentence but if the house has occupants when you commit the crime, you could serve up to 6 years.
  • Robbery is a felony offence with a state prison sentence of between 2 to 6 years. It’s also a ‘strike’ offence.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys know that all larceny charges require that the DA prove the accused had the specific intent to deprive the true owner of the property. In addition, some cases can be negotiated with the alleged victim for a civil compromise to the accused’s benefit.

Contact the attorneys at the Johnson Criminal Law Group today to discuss your case.

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