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Los Angeles Grand Theft and Grand Theft Auto

Charged with Grand Theft in California? Call Our Criminal Defense Law Firm

Too many people believe that theft is not a serious crime - after all, theft does not involve causing physical harm to others, so the penalties should not be severe. However, like all criminal charges, you should always take theft charges extremely seriously. Authorities in California aggressively pursue convictions for anyone suspected of theft, and the law provides for potentially harsh penalties for convicted offenders. This is especially true if you face charges for grand theft or grand theft auto, both of which could land you in prison for years.

Both grand theft and grand theft auto convictions can have lasting effects on your life. Fortunately, with the right legal representation, you can have your charges dismissed or get a reduced charge or sentence. At The Law Offices of David S. Chesley, our team of highly skilled theft defense lawyers aims for the best outcome based on the circumstances of every case. We have many defense tools and strategies to protect your rights, defend against your charges, and reduce the consequences you face as much as possible. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, please call 800-755-5174 or contact us online without hesitation.

Grand Theft and Grand Theft Auto Allegations

Under California law, “theft” involves the taking of another person’s property without authority. Many acts fall into the theft category, including stealing, shoplifting, embezzlement, and fraud. The law allows penalties for theft that include probation, restitution, fines, and even jail time.

California Penal Code 487 provides certain circumstances under which regular theft charges can be escalated to charges of “grand theft.” Some of those circumstances include:

  • The value of the stolen property was more than $950
  • The value was more than $250 and the property involved domestic fowl, fruits or vegetables, other farm crops, or aquacultural products
  • An employee took $950 or more in one year from their employer
  • The property was taken from the person of another (e.g., pickpocketing)
  • The stolen property was an automobile or a firearm

As you can see, the theft of an automobile is considered to be grand theft under the law, and many people refer to this as “grand theft auto.” While this is not its own criminal offense, it is one of the most common forms of grand theft.

Stealing an automobile - for even a short period of time - is also against California law under Vehicle Code 10851. This law specifically focuses on the theft of a vehicle and applies to the following situation:

  • You take or drive another party’s vehicle without consent
  • You intended to deprive the owner of their possession of the vehicle, either temporarily or permanently

Note that it does not matter whether or not you intended to permanently steal a car. You can be charged under Vehicle Code 10851 even if you only took the car to drive it for a short time and then intended to return it, which is often called “joyriding.” Driving a car without consent for any period of time is a crime under the vehicle code. If prosecutors believe you intended to keep the car for a longer period of time or permanently, you may also face charges of grand theft auto under Penal Code 487.

Whether you face charges of grand theft or grand theft auto under the Penal Code, Vehicle Code, or both, you need the right defense representation on your case as soon as possible. Your very first call should be to a skilled grand theft defense attorney at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley.

Related Offenses to Grand Theft and Grand Theft Auto

In many cases, grand theft charges will be associated with or accompanied by other criminal charges. There are several offenses related to grand theft, which may include:

  • Petty theft (Penal Code 484) - If there is a dispute over the value of the stolen property, and a judge or jury determines the value was less than $950, you could instead be convicted of petty theft. This conviction comes with reduced penalties than with grand theft, though the penalties can be more severe if you have certain prior convictions.
  • Grand theft firearm (Penal Code 487) - Like grand theft auto, this is not its own offense, but a subsection of grand theft. However, grand theft firearm has specific penalties and is always charged as a felony and is a strike under the California Three Strikes Law.
  • Burglary (Penal Code 459) - In some cases, a person takes property by entering or remaining within a home or building without permission. Anytime someone so enters a building intending to commit a theft or any other felony offense, a prosecutor can issue burglary charges.
  • Forgery (Penal Code 470) - Many theft crimes involve fraud, including falsifying documents, signing another person’s signature without permission, and similar acts. These can result in forgery charges in addition to grand theft charges.
  • Misappropriation of public funds (Penal Code 424) - If the money stolen came from government funds, this serious charge may apply. This often occurs when a government employee is accused of embezzlement or similar theft crimes.
  • Robbery (Penal Code 211) - This is perhaps one of the most serious theft-related crimes, as it involves taking money or property from another person by force or threat of force, often involving a deadly weapon. Robbery is a felony and counts as a strike under our state’s Three Strikes Law. Therefore, it is extremely important to have the right attorney work to get robbery charges reduced or dismissed.

Potential Penalties for Grand Theft Convictions

Grand theft is a charge known as a “wobbler” in California, which means a prosecutor has the discretion to charge grand theft as a misdemeanor or felony in many cases. Prosecutors often base this decision on the value of property stolen, the extent of the theft scheme, and whether you have any prior convictions. There are some cases in which grand theft must be a felony, including the theft of firearms or of emergency vehicles such as police cars or ambulances.

In any case, charges can expose you to serious and lasting consequences. Here are some of the potential consequences associated with a grand theft charge:

  • Misdemeanor grand theft – up to one year in county jail
  • Felony grand theft – 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison

Penalties can be enhanced if the value of the property stolen was over a certain amount.  This means you may receive addition prison time in the event that the property you allegedly stole was particularly valuable.

The sentence enhancements are as follows:

  • One year of imprisonment if the property stolen is valued in excess of $65,000
  • Two years of imprisonment if the property stolen is valued in excess $200,000
  • Three years of imprisonment if the property stolen is valued in excess $1,300,000
  • Four years of imprisonment if the property stolen is valued in excess 200,000

It is important to understand that you can be accused of multiple counts of grand theft so long as he incidents of theft were not part of the same common plan or scheme. So, for example, if you misappropriated property from your employer on 5 separate occasions, the prosecutor may try and bring five separate counts of grand theft against you. An experienced attorney may be able to argue that they there were all part of the same embezzlement scheme, however, reducing the grand theft counts you are facing to just one.

It is important to know that our attorneys regularly engage in skilled plea bargaining to obtain a reduction of a client’s charges. This can mean reducing a felony to a misdemeanor or a Three Strikes offense to a non-strike offense. This can also result in a lesser sentence and may prevent a conviction on your record.

Contact Our Experienced Los Angeles Grand Theft Defense Lawyers Today

When you are facing grand theft or grand theft auto, you should not wait to consult with The Law Offices of David S. Chesley. We regularly defend against this type of charge and obtain reduced charges or dismissals for our clients. Call today at 800-755-5174 or contact us online to discuss your case for free.

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Grand Theft

The Penal Code in California defines the severity of an offense and punishments by the value of the object or property stolen, and in the manner, it is stolen from the owner of the property.

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Robbery

California’s penal code 211 defines robbery as the act of felonious taking of property or something of value from the possession of another person by force or fear.

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Petty Theft

The penal code 484 in California’s law defines petty theft as stealing, taking, carrying, or embezzling property or money of another person that is capped at $950.

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Burglary

California’s Health & Safety Code has many sections that deal with the various offenses related to Marijuana.

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Fraud

In California, Fraud or Larceny is a criminal act resulting in criminal charges against the person committing the offense.

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Identity Theft

The number of cases of identity theft in California is increasing day by day, and it has become a prevalent crime in this age of Information Technology.

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Recent Results

  • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

  • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

  • Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

  • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

  • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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