Grand Theft vs. Petty Theft California PC 487 – 488 PC
Theft crimes are charged as either grand theft or petty theft depending upon the value and character of the item taken.
Grand theft in California (PC 487)
Under California Penal Code 487, grand theft is committed when the value of money, labor, or real or personal property taken exceeds $950. The property’s value is determined by its present market value at the time of the offense (when it was taken) rather than its original purchase price. Property such as paintings and antiques typically appreciate in value while cars depreciate the moment they are driven off the lot.
Your theft offense will also be charged as grand theft if one of the following occurs:
- When domestic fowls, avocados, olives, fruits, vegetables, nuts, artichokes or other farm crops are taken of a value exceeding $250
- When fish, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, kelp, algae or other aqua cultural products are taken from a commercial or research operation of a value exceeding $250
- Where the money, labor or real or personal property is taken by a servant, agent or employee from his or principal or employer and aggregates $950 or more in any 12 consecutive month period
- When the property is taken from the person of another
- When the property taken is an automobile or firearm
- When the property taken is a horse, mare, gelding, bovine animal, caprine animal, mule, jack, jenny, sheep, lamb, hog, sow, boar, gilt, barrow or pig.
Property taken from the person of another
If you took property from the person of another, your offense will be charged as grand theft. Property is considered on the person of another if it is located in the clothing, on the body or held by victim. The key is whether or not the property was making contact with the victim at the time you took it. For example: A hat sitting on a nightstand is not considered on the person of another because it is not making physical contact with the victim. However if you take the hat directly from the victim’s head, you can be charged with grand theft because the property was in physical contact with the owner. The value of the property itself is irrelevant.
Taken by a servant, agent, or employee
Typically, the value of the property taken is determined by the market value of the objects taken during one occurrence. However, if you are a servant, agent, or employee and take property belonging to your employer, you can be convicted of grand theft if the total value of the property taken over a 12 month period exceeds $950. Therefore if you take relatively inexpensive objects from your employee over a long period of time, you can still be convicted of grand theft if the total value of the property exceeds $950 over a 12 month period.
Petty theft in California (PC 488)
Under California Penal Code section 488, petty theft is any theft offense that does not qualify as grand theft. Therefore if the value of the property taken does not exceed $950 or the character of the property does not automatically designate it as grand theft, the offense will be charged as petty theft.
California theft attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you are looking for an experienced defense attorney to represent you, Wallin & Klarich can help. With over 30 years of experience and offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our highly skilled and professional defense attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of your case and passionately argue that your case should be dismissed.
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