Were You Charged with California Crime Grand Theft Under Penal Code 487?

Grand theft is a serious offense that is prosecuted aggressively under California’s penal code.  If the stolen object is a firearm, grand theft may constitute a “strike” under California’s harsh “three strikes” law.  A person who receives a third strike for grand theft firearm or other serious felonies faces a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

If you or one of your family members was arrested for grand theft in Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, or elsewhere in the Southern California area, you should speak to an aggressive and experienced defense attorney right away to begin reviewing your legal options.  Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 as soon as possible to set up a free legal consultation.

Reasons You Can Get Arrested for Grand Theft in Ventura County

Theft, or larceny, is broadly defined under Cal. Penal Code § 484 as “steal[ing], tak[ing], carry[ing], lead[ing], or driv[ing] away the personal property of another.”  However, California’s criminal laws distinguish between many different forms of theft.
A theft offense is specifically categorized as grand theft when allegedly, under Cal. Penal Code § 487, a person:

  • Takes more than $950 in cash, credit cards, or other forms of money.
  • Takes real property, personal property, or labor valued at more than $950. This could include furniture, jewelry, furs, appliances, electronics, artworks, or other items.
  • Takes more than $950 from their employer – whether in money, work, personal property, or real property – over a period of one year or more.
  • Takes property directly from another’s person, such as stealing a smartphone or wallet out of a pedestrian’s pocket, regardless of its value.
  • Takes a car, regardless of its value.
  • Takes any kind of firearm, including handguns, pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
    • In the past, theft of a firearm of any value met the definition of this offense. However, with the passage of Prop 47, a firearm must be worth more than $950 for its unlawful taking to constitute an act of grand theft, unless the defendant was previously convicted of murder or various sex crimes.

Though relatively uncommon, grand theft can also be charged when a person allegedly:

  • Takes farm crops, hens, or chickens valued at more than $250.
  • Takes fish or other products from a fishery or marine research facility, of a value exceeding $250.

What Are the Penalties if You Are Convicted of Grand Theft in California?

There are two types of crimes in California: misdemeanors, which are comparatively minor crimes, and felonies, which are major offenses subject to extremely harsh criminal consequences.  Grand theft is generally a “wobbler” offense, which means it can potentially be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specifics of the situation.  For example, the prosecutor will evaluate factors such as your criminal record, if you have any prior offenses, and whether anyone was injured during the commission of the crime.

A skilled attorney will approach your case with a strategic, detail-oriented eye, and, depending on the circumstances, may be able to persuade the prosecutor that it is more appropriate for you to be charged with a misdemeanor, reducing the penalties you would otherwise face.  It may even be possible to have the charges dropped altogether.  There are, however, some scenarios in which grand theft is automatically a felony.  For instance, theft of a firearm valued above $950, which is called “grand theft firearm,” is a felony charge.

The criminal consequences of a grand theft conviction in California are set forth by Cal. Penal Code § 489, which provides the following penalties based on the nature of the crime:

  • Grand theft of a firearm, under Cal. Penal Code § 487(d)(2):
    • 16 months in prison
    • 2 years in prison
    • 3 years in prison
  • Grand theft in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 487a, which involves theft of livestock:
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • A fine of up to $5,000
  • All other types of grand theft:
    • Up to 1 year in jail

The sentence may be extended by at least one year, and potentially by up to four years, if the value of the stolen property exceeded $65,000.

Contact Our Experienced Santa Barbara Defense Attorneys for a Free Legal Consultation

The Santa Barbara grand theft lawyers of The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC combine more than 22 years of legal experience providing innovative, aggressive legal representation for adults and juveniles charged with a wide array of petty and grand theft offenses in Santa Barbara County and Ventura County.

We understand what a stressful and difficult time this is for you and your loved ones, and will sit down with you to answer all of your questions about bail, defense strategies, the court process, criminal penalties, and other aspects of your case.  Our goal is to provide support and guidance while fighting hard to see that your case reaches a favorable resolution.

To arrange a free legal consultation with one of our knowledgeable California theft lawyers, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 right away.  We handle cases in Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Santa Maria, Newbury Park, and other communities throughout the area.

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