Grand Theft: A felony or a misdemeanor?

For people facing charges of grand theft, a common concern is whether or not the crime constitutes a felony or a misdemeanor. One of the key differences between a felony and misdemeanor is the typical length of the sentencing; a misdemeanor would typically land you in jail for no longer than a year, while felony grand theft could land you in jail for up to three years. And while both crimes go on your record, a felony would generally look worse than a misdemeanor.

For starters, what does it usually take to get charged with grand theft?

  • What you steal exceeds $950 in value (unless we're talking about certain agricultural products and livestock, in which case it's a $250 threshold).
  • Stealing a vehicle or a firearm of any value.
  • The way you acquire the stolen property is another factor influencing whether or not you get charged with grand theft; for instance, if you take the property directly off of another person, such as snatching a purse from someone, this could get you charged with grand theft, even if the purse, and the money and items in it, don't exceed $950 in value.

That being the case, what constitutes a felony versus a misdemeanor grand theft?

Prosecutors have leeway with what to charge you with, whether they'll go for a felony conviction or misdemeanor. The factors that influence their decision include:

  • The value of the property stolen.
  • Your criminal history. For instance, if you were convicted of theft before, they're probably going to press for more serious charges.
  • How the crime was perpetrated. Did you carry out the theft using violence or the threat of violence? How elaborate or premeditated was the crime?
  • Concurrent charges. For any given criminal act, an individual can be charged with multiple crimes; one of many recent examples that made national news was a California school accountant charged with grand theft, along with embezzlement and burglary, for stealing the students' lunch money.

Another crucial factor that affects the charges you're faced with and the outcome of any trial or plea deal is the quality of your defense. If you have experienced defense attorneys on your side, you'll be less likely to face conviction or the most severe penalties for a given crime.

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Corona or Riverside, contact us immediately. We have aver 14 years of experience in handling cases in the local courts and are highly rated defense attorneys.

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