What are the Legal Defenses to Grand Theft in California? PC 487(a)

January 21, 2023

Grand theft is a serious crime in California that is defined under Penal Code 487(a). It occurs when someone takes property that belongs to another person, with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. The value of the stolen property must exceed $950 for the crime to be considered grand theft. If convicted, a person can face significant fines and jail time.

If you are facing grand theft charges in California, it is important to understand your legal options and defenses. The following are some of the most common legal defenses to grand theft charges under PC 487(a):

Lack of intent

One of the key elements of grand theft is intent. The prosecution must prove that the accused intended to take the property and permanently deprive the owner of it. If the defendant can show that they did not have the intent to steal, they may have a valid defense. For example, if the defendant can show that they accidentally took the property or believed it was theirs, they may not be guilty of grand theft.

Consent

Another key element of grand theft is that the property was taken without the owner’s consent. If the defendant can show that they had the owner’s permission to take the property, they may have a valid defense. For example, if the defendant can show that they borrowed the property with the owner’s permission, they may not be guilty of grand theft.

Mistake of fact

The defense of mistake of fact is based on the idea that the defendant made an honest mistake and did not intend to steal. If the defendant can show that they believed they had a right to take the property, they may have a valid defense. For example, if the defendant can show that they believed the property was theirs or that they were entitled to take it, they may not be guilty of grand theft.

Duress

The defense of duress is based on the idea that the defendant was forced to commit the crime under threat of harm. If the defendant can show that they were threatened with harm if they did not take the property, they may have a valid defense. For example, if the defendant can show that they were threatened with physical harm if they did not steal the property, they may not be guilty of grand theft.

Entrapment

The defense of entrapment is based on the idea that the defendant was induced by law enforcement officials to commit the crime. If the defendant can show that they were entrapped, they may have a valid defense. For example, if the defendant can show that the police officer who arrested them offered them money or other incentives to steal the property, they may not be guilty of grand theft.

Insanity

The defense of insanity is based on the idea that the defendant was not capable of understanding the nature of their actions at the time of the crime. If the defendant can show that they were suffering from a mental illness or disorder that prevented them from understanding that they were committing a crime, they may have a valid defense.

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Grand theft can be a technical crime with multiple elements, and the legal defenses available will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. You must work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can review the evidence against you, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and advise you on the best defense strategy.

If you’re being accused of grand theft under PC 487(a), then call the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today. Contact us to schedule a free confidential consultation to discuss your options. Attorney John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist by the State Bar of California. He routinely represents clients charged with theft crimes in both state and federal court.

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