Theft in California is frequently divided into categories of grand and petty . This distinction is often made by the value of items that are stolen. Whether a person is charged with petty or grand is important because punishments for grand are often more severe. Sometimes exactly what kind of item is stolen dictates whether a prosecutor will levy a charge of grand or petty .

As explained by FindLaw, the state is likely to charge someone with grand if the value of the stolen property is greater than $950, although grand can take place is someone steals farm crops or livestock that is valued at above $250. Grand also occurs when a person robs a person directly, taking property that the person is carrying or wearing. Stealing property such as firearms and automobiles is also automatically considered an act of grand .

Punishments for petty are generally more lenient than grand . Penalties may include incarceration for up to six months and/or a fine no greater than $1,000. If the stolen property possesses value that is small enough, such as below $50, the charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor and a smaller fine of no more than $250. Grand , by contrast, can result in a year of time in a county jail, or more severely, jail time up to three years and imprisonment in state prison.

Additionally, previous criminal convictions can add to both petty and grand penalties. A prosecutor who would ordinarily recommend a small fine and no jail time might instead pursue a jail sentence for petty if the person charged had been convicted of petty prior. Previous criminal convictions can also escalate punishments for grand , including requiring a person to serve a sentence in state prison rather than in a county jail.

The degree of is an important component of a defense case. If the property is established to possess a low value, the charge should be a petty charge, which will lower the severity of jail time and/or fees. Theft cases will differ, so only read this article for educational benefit and not as legal advice for your situation.