The fine line between petty theft and grand theft in California  

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2021 | Theft |

The penalties and charges that you face for a theft offense depend on numerous factors. The circumstances in which the theft allegedly occurred, the value of the items and the nature of the items can all influence the criminal charges that you face. 

You can roughly break most theft charges in California into two classifications: Petty theft allegations typically result in misdemeanor charges, while grand theft allegations may lead to felony charges. What is the main difference between petty and grand theft under California law?

The value of the items determines the charges

For the most part, the main consideration when the state decides what criminal charges to bring against someone for a property offense is the value of the items involved. The greater the combined value of the property, the more serious the charges and consequences. 

Once the property reaches a value of $950, the charges increase from petty theft and grand theft. However, certain kinds of property can also lead to more serious theft charges. If you steal just $250 worth of citrus fruits, olives, domestic fowl or other agricultural crops, that could constitute grand theft.  The same is true of fish, shellfish and other aquacultural products. 

The theft of a firearm, regardless of its value, is always grand theft. The same is true of a vehicle or anything stolen directly from another person. Even if the value of these items is nowhere near the grand theft cutoff amount, the state could still pursue grand theft charges. 

Learning about California theft laws can help you avoid charges or respond to them better after an arrest. When your future is in danger, you need to protect your interests with an aggressive defense.