In the California Penal Code under the section 487 established the crime of grand theft as stealing someone's property that is valuable more than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950). Basically, grand theft and petty theft are the same conduct, unlawful taking of property that permanently deprive another person to use the property. However, the valuable of the property is going to define if the crime is a petty or grand theft.
In other words, the Penal Code defined the following conducts that could lead someone to a theft conviction: steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another is considered theft in California. Furthermore, the statute defined and created different types of theft, in which includes: theft by larceny, theft by trick, theft by embezzlement and theft by fraud. Most of the cases involving theft is when someone physically takes and carries property of another, that is also known as theft by larceny in California.
Examples that could lead a person of a grand theft conviction:
- Taking and carrying away a woman's fancy purse that is 5,000$ worth it.
- Shoplifting a nice watch that has $2,000 price tag.
- Taking and carrying away one thousand dollars from the company that you work.
In order for someone being convicted of grand theft, the prosecution must prove some facts and elements of the crime. The elements of the crime is going to variate depending on the type of grand theft that was committed by the defendant.
Let's explain in details those types of theft crimes for better comprehension. These crimes are essential for the prosecution to establish the type of charged to file against the defendant, if the prosecution does not prove these elements of crimes, a person should not be convicted of theft. San Diego Criminal Attorney will work to prove the innocence of its clients.
Grand theft by larceny
In California, theft by larceny is when you physically take and carry away another person's tangible property. In order for someone being convicted of larceny, the prosecution must prove the following facts and elements into court:
- The defendant took possession of property owned by someone else.
- The defendant took the property without the owner's consent.
- When the defendant took the property and intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or to remove it from the owner's possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.
- The defendant moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief. 1
Example: Peter wrongfully obtains entrance to a theater and observes a performance of a play. Peter did not commit a larceny, since the right or ability to observe a play is tangible.
Example: Tom owns two cars but only uses one of them. He decides to lease the unused car to Anna for one year. Six months into the one year lease, Tom decides that he wants the car back. When Anna refuses to rescind the lease, Tom sneaks into Anna's driveway and drives the car back home. Tom is guilty of larceny even though he is the owner, because at the time of the crime, Tom did not have full possession of the property.
In California, it is a crime to take and carry away of tangible personal property of another, with intent to permanently ( for an unreasonable time) deprive the person of his interest of the property. Any type of shoplifting could be considered a grand theft, so
1 CALCRIM 1800.
long as the property is worth more than $950. Furthermore, even if you had intention to return the property, but stays with the property stolen for a reasonable time, you could be guilty of theft in California.
Grand theft by false pretense
The offense of false pretenses was created by English statute and consequently is a part of common law in those American states. In California, the Penal Code 532 established the theft by false pretenses. In order for someone being guilty of false pretense, the prosecution must prove the following elements of crimes:
- The defendant knowingly and intentionally deceived a property owner by false or fraudulent representation or pretense
- The defendant did so intending to persuade the owner to let the defendant take possession and ownership of the property
- The owner let the defendant take possession and ownership of the property because the owner relied on the representation or pretense. CALCRIM 1804
The most important elements of false pretense are: the victim must actually was deceived by, or act in reliance on, the misrepresentation, and this must be major factor of the victim passing the property to the defendant.
Also, in California the prosecution must prove with substantial evidence that the defendant's intent to persuade the victim from a fraudulent representation. The prosecution must prove that the false pretense was accompanied by either a false writing or false token, there was a note or memorandum of the pretense signed or handwritten by the defendant, or it must introduce witnesses to prove the false pretenses.
Example: Colton obtained money from Trevor by representing that he was securing it by a first mortgage on certain property. He intended to pay back the loan. The mortgage given was, as Colton knew, fake.
In this case, Colton could be guilty of false pretense, since he knew of Trevor's great risk of loss his money.
Grand theft by trick
In order for someone being guilty of grand theft by trick, the prosecution must prove the following elements of crimes into court:
- The defendant obtained property that he/she knew was owned by someone else.
- The property owner consented to the defendant's possession of the property because the defendant used fraud or deceit.
- When the defendant obtained the property and intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or to remove it from the owner's possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property. CALCRIM 1805
Furthermore, it is important to establish the difference between false pretense and larceny by trick. Grand theft by trick is when the victim did not allow the defendant to take possession of the property, but he/she tricked the victim and steal the property. As false pretense, the defendant have full possession and ownership of the property, with the victim consent.
Theft by embezzlement
In order for someone being guilty of grand theft by embezzlement, the prosecution must prove the following elements of crimes into court:
- An owner entrusted the property to the defendant.
- The defendant fraudulently converted or used that property for his/her own benefit.
- When the defendant converted or used the property, he/she intended to deprive the owner of (it/its use).
Example: Peter works at the cashier of the restaurant, someday, his boss accused him of stealing the money from the company. Peter did not commit any crime, but he was enraged that his boss accused him, because of that, he opened the cash machine and stole $1,000 from the restaurant.
In this case, Peter could be guilty of grand theft embezzlement, since while he stole the money and he was still an employee from the restaurant when he committed the crime.
Usually, under California Rules, grand theft is punished as a wobbler in California, meaning that the prosecution had a option to charge the defendant with both felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts of each case and the defendant's criminal history.
Thus, if the crime is charged as a misdemeanor the punishment is going to be by imprisonment in county jail up to one (1) year; or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both imprisonment and fine.
If the receiving stolen property is charged as a felony penalty in California, the defendant could face a punishment of felony probation, or imprisonment of sixteen (16), two (2) years or three (3) years; or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both imprisonment and fine.
Moreover, if the crime was committed with a firearm, the punishment is going to be aggravated and the offense could just be charged as a felony, additionally, the crime will be considered a strike offense under California rules.
In addition, if the value of the property stolen was particularly high, the imprisonment could increase as the following:
- Additional one year of the loss exceeds sixty-five thousand dollars ($65,000).
- Additional two year of the loss exceeds two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000).
- Additional three year of the loss exceeds one million three hundred thousand dollars ($1,300,000).
- Additional four year of the loss exceeds three million two hundred thousand dollars ($3,200,000).
California's "Three Strikes" Law
In California there is an aggravate rule that it is called three strikes law, in which the judge has discretion to determine to increase or diminish the conviction depending on the defendant's record. For instance, if a defendant receive a "strike" on his record, by that is convicted with a felony and then after a while he receives another sentence with felony, the judge could give twice of the regular sentence in the conviction. And if the defendant gets three "strikes", he or she might give a 25 years of imprisonment in a California State prison.
The grand theft as mentioned could be a wobbler in California, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the crime is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there a felony or misdemeanor register, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a criminal background. If you have been charged with this type of crime, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be used to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems.
To contest the charges of this crime, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses, if that is the case:
- Lack of intent to commit the crime.
The main requirement of this crime is intention to commit a theft. However, for instance, if a person entered a store without a prior intent to steal a product and while inside the department the person decided to take away a nice product without pay, this person could not face a shoplifting charges, since the statute is clear that you can only be convicted of shoplifting is if you intended to do so in advance.
- Wrongfully accused.
Under the rules of Californa Law, it is too easy for a victim falsely accuse another of committing this crime, sometimes the cause of action is out of anger, revenge or jealousy. However, San Diego Criminal Attorney know how to protect its clients from wrongfully accusations. One of the best defense of shoplifting is demonstrate that you did not commit the crime or the theft inside the commercial establishment, that it was another person who committed it. Sometimes, it is common that innocent people could get arrested by mistake. Showing that you were falsely accused it could the best defense to dismiss the case. If this is your case, contact an attorney promptly.
- Mistake of fact.
A person could face a grand theft charges for the wrong reasons, sometimes the security guard mistakenly thought that had saw the defendant stealing the property, but actually, the product was her own personal property. If that is the case, San Diego Criminal Attorney could build a strong defense to dismiss your charges.