Law Office of David P. Shapiro - San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney




2550 Fifth Ave Suite 1050, San Diego, CA 92103

San Diego Grand Theft Defense Lawyer

In San Diego County, accusations of theft can often result in a variety of charges, such as burglary, petty theft, or grand theft. Grand theft charges typically follow allegations of thefts exceeding $950 in total value. This could be in the form of money, items, wages and more. In cases involving some agricultural commodities, the requisite dollar value drops to $250. Some accusations of theft will automatically lead to charges of grand theft, regardless of the dollar amount in question. These include theft of a firearm, or when the property is taken from someone’s body.

The penalties for conviction of grand theft in California can be severe, including a felony and years in custody. If you are facing charges of grand theft, the professional and personal fallout can be devastating, especially considering how you will be perceived by future employers or members of the community. Don’t leave your future and your freedom to chance. Enter the courtroom with an experienced San Diego defense attorney by your side. Call the Law Office of David P. Shapiro and schedule a case evaluation today. Want to learn more about Grand Theft in San Diego right now? Download our free Survival Guide for Those Accused of a Theft Crime in San Diego.

Grand Theft and California Penal Code 487

There’s an unfortunate saying in San Diego: come on vacation, leave on probation.  The State of California has earned a reputation for aggressive prosecution.  If you have been charged with grand theft, you are facing charges under California Penal Code 487.  According to PC 487, suspected thefts involving any of the following may lead to charges of grand theft:

  • Theft of personal or real property, money, or labor (in the form of held wages) exceeding $950, over a 12-month period. A person accused of shoplifting goods in excess of $950 can face charges of grand theft.
  • Theft of agricultural goods valued over $250. This includes sea life, fowl, and farm crops held at private and commercial operations.  Per PC 487(1)(B), the theft must exceed $250 in a single day.
  • Firearm theft. Regardless of value, any firearm theft will be charged as grand theft according to PC 487(3)(d)(2).  The statute also lists automobiles (of any value) to automatically be grand theft, but the passage of Proposition 47 has made it that the value of the vehicle must exceed $950 to qualify as grand theft.

Penalties for Grand Theft Conviction in San Diego

Each grand theft case is unique. An accusation of grand theft can reference a piece of stolen jewelry, embezzled funds, theft of services and much more. The circumstances of your case – and how effective your defense lawyer argues them – will play large roles in determining the outcome of your case. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be charged with misdemeanor grand theft or felony grand theft.

Misdemeanor Grand Theft Conviction

If the defense successfully argues the circumstances of your case do not merit felony charges, you could be facing a misdemeanor conviction for grand theft. Misdemeanor charges for grand theft can lead to criminal penalties up to and including:

  • One (1) year in a San Diego County jail
  • A fine not to exceed $1,000
  • Probation

Felony Grand Theft Conviction

In most cases, a felony conviction for grand theft will include any or all the following:

  • Up to three (3) years in custody for a first conviction
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Felony probation or parole

Enhancements can add years to prison sentences for those found guilty of grand theft. San Diegans found guilty of grand theft may face increased sentences due to:

  • Prior convictions
  • Previous strikes
  • The total value of the offense
  • Several other aggravating circumstances

If you are facing grand theft charges, the outcome of your case may affect the rest of your life. Grand theft is considered a crime involving moral turpitude. A conviction for grand theft can lead to difficulties finding employment and non-citizens may face deportation. Speak to one of our experienced grand theft defense attorneys to learn more about how to regain control of your future.

Four Types of Grand Theft Charges in San Diego

Grand theft is a “wobbler” charge; depending on circumstances specific to your case, you may be facing misdemeanor or felony charges.  The alleged theft, the means with which it was carried out, and the quality of your defense team, can have major impacts on the charges leveled against you and the case’s result. The State of California recognizes four types of grand theft:

Grand Theft by Larceny

The most common form of grand theft, grand theft by larceny, involves the direct theft of property, money, or labor exceeding $950.  This includes persons accused of shoplifting crimes.

Grand Theft by Deceit

Any person accused of deceiving another person into surrendering physical, but not legal, control of their property may face charges of grand theft by deceit.  In these cases, the property owner’s perception of the offense can weigh into the charges.

Grand Theft by False Pretense

Attempting to gain legal control, in addition to physical control, of another’s property, can lead to charges of grand theft by false pretense.  These cases typically involve claims of fraudulent financial documents or similar evidence.

Grand Theft by Embezzlement

Appropriating money from an account you have been entrusted to keep is embezzlement, a crime under PC 503.  In cases of amounts alleged to have exceeded $950, you may be charged with grand theft by embezzlement according to PC 487(a).

Grand Theft Defense in San Diego

Accusations of grand theft require a strategic courtroom response.  Your freedom, reputation, and potentially your livelihood all hang in the balance.  Accusations are not final.  You have the right to respond to the charges against you.  Possible defenses to allegations of grand theft may include:

  • If someone gives you permission to use an item and later claims to have not, proving you received consent can lead to a dismissal or acquittal at trial.
  • Lack of Intent. Accidentally leaving a store without paying for an item over $950 is embarrassing, but not a crime of grand theft if the prosecution is unable to prove the requisite criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • A Claim of Right. If you can cast doubt as to whether you had a reasonable belief the property in question belonged to you, your defense may prevail.
  • False Accusations. In truly tragic circumstances, good people are dragged through painful courtroom battles over false accusations of grand theft.

If you are facing charges of grand theft in San Diego, you need a law firm who understands California theft laws.  We literally wrote the book on defending against charges of theft.  Call the Law Office of David P. Shapiro where we pride ourselves in helping good people regain control of their future when charged with a crime.


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