Grand theft, according to California law, refers to stealing property or services valued above $950. Theft of certain items, such as vehicles, firearms, or animals such as horses, will be considered grand theft, regardless of their value. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we work with clients accused of grand theft, as well as other theft crimes such as robbery, and help them understand their legal rights while setting forth strong criminal defense advocacy under the law. Experienced San Bernardino and Riverside County theft crimes attorney Gregory H. Comings only represents the criminally accused. We believe everyone deserves the best possible legal defense, and are prepared to fight for you.
According to California Penal Code section 484, grand theft occurs when an individual unlawfully takes, with the intent to steal, money, property, or labor valued at over $950. Additionally, the law states that grand theft occurs when the property taken is a vehicle or a firearm, regardless of value. There are different ways a defendant may commit the crime of grand theft. One example of grand theft is to physically take and carry away another’s property, intending to steal that property. False pretenses may take place when someone is tricking another person into turning over their possession and ownership of property. Embezzlement occurs when when someone unlawfully takes property entrusted to them, and is another form of theft.
California state prosecutors can either charge grand theft as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specific facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. Grand theft is therefore known as a “wobbler offense,” which means, for example, that the defendant could face up to one year in county jail for a misdemeanor or up to three years in California State Prison if the offense is charged as a felony. Additionally, other significant factors considered by the prosecution include the total value of the property, whether there was violence toward victims, and the criminal history of the defendant. When the property taken is a firearm, the crime rises to an automatic felony and is considered a “strike” according to California’s “Three Strikes” law.
It is important to note that not all charges for grand theft, or other crimes, result in a conviction. If a defendant is facing a formal charge of grand theft, the prosecution carries the burden of proving all elements of this crime. For example, grand theft requires that the defendant have the intent to steal. If there was an intent to borrow and return, then this would not satisfy the element of intent according to law, and the defendant could not be charged with grand theft.
One main defense to the charge of grand theft is claim of right. A defendant who sincerely believes they were entitled to the property would not have the intent to steal. The prosecution therefore would not be able to charge grand theft. However, this defense cannot be set forth if the defendant concealed taking the property at the time of the alleged theft or after the theft had been discovered. Additionally, if the property was illegal to possess, such as drugs or guns, claim of right will not apply.
Another defense to the crime of grand theft is consent. There is no theft when the owner of the property consented to the defendant’s taking of this property. It is important, however, that the defendant have acted within the scope of the consent. An example of exceeding scope of consent may be a defendant using a car specifically loaned to him for work to go pleasure riding on the weekend. In some cases, grand theft charges can be reduced, so that the defendant is facing a misdemeanor charge for petty theft. An experienced theft crime defense attorney can help dismiss or reduce charges.
Due to the value of the property involved in the crime of grand theft, defendants may face serious penalties and incarceration. Throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, attorney Gregory H. Comings provides experienced, quality legal representation to individuals charged with grand theft and other crimes, such as burglary. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that an aggressive criminal defense lawyer represent you because there may be weaknesses in the prosecution's case. A criminal conviction not only carries potential jail time and fines, but the lifelong stigma of a criminal record. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we review the facts of your case and devise a strategy seeking to obtain a positive outcome on your behalf. We understand that our clients often want to hear the best and worst case scenarios, and we strive to provide that in an honest, straightforward way. Contact us by calling (951) 686-3457 or reach us online to setup an appointment regarding your case. We are available 24/7, and help people throughout areas including Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Temecula, Indio, Redlands, Ontario, and Victorville.