What is the Difference Between Petty Theft and Grand Theft Under California Law?

April 19, 2023

In California, petty theft and grand theft are defined and punished under Penal Codes 484 and 487(a) respectively. The main difference between the two is the value of the property stolen.

Petty theft, defined under Penal Code 484, is the unlawful taking of property with a value of $950 or less. This can include things like shoplifting, pickpocketing, and stealing from a person’s home or car. The punishment for petty theft can include fines, probation, and up to six months in county jail.

Grand theft, defined under Penal Code 487(a), is the unlawful taking of property with a value of more than $950. This can include things like embezzlement, carjacking, and armed robbery. Punishment for grand theft can include fines, probation, and up to three years in the county jail.

It is important to note that there are a few exceptions to the value threshold that determine whether a theft is considered petty or grand. For example, if the property stolen is a firearm, it is considered grand theft regardless of its value. Additionally, if the theft was committed during a state of emergency declared by the Governor, it is considered grand theft regardless of the value of the property stolen.

Another key difference between petty theft and grand theft is that grand theft is considered a “wobbler” offense in California, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the crime and the discretion of the prosecutor. In contrast, petty theft is always considered a misdemeanor.

If you’re facing a theft crime, then give the Law Offices of John D. Rogers a call today to discuss your options.

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