In Orange County, grand theft charges involve the unlawful taking of property that belongs to someone else, and if you are accused of stealing property worth more than $950, or if the property you allegedly stole is a car or firearm, you could be charged with grand theft, a serious crime punishable by up to three years in state prison, among other life-changing penalties.
If you or a loved one is facing Orange County grand theft charges, your freedom and your future is at risk.
Contact our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to find out how best to defend yourself against grand theft charges in Orange County or the surrounding counties.
AFFORDABLE ORANGE COUNTY GRAND THEFT DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Our grand theft defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience and we realize how devastating a criminal conviction for grand theft would be for you and your family, especially if it comes with a county jail or state prison sentence.
As trial lawyers, we are intimately familiar with the inner workings of the Orange County criminal justice system and we have a clear understanding of theft crimes law and how the law applies to your case.
When you hire our firm, you work directly with a top criminal defense attorney throughout the duration of your criminal case, so you can ensure that all of your legal needs are met.
Contact Seyb Law Group today for a free evaluation of your Orange County grand theft case.
GRAND THEFT CHARGES
Similar to the crime of petty theft, grand theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property, without their consent, and with the intent to steal the property.
But in order for the crime of Orange County grand theft to be charged, rather than the less serious crime of petty theft, one or more of the following must be true:
- The defendant took property “from the person” of the owner (property that was on his or her person at the time the crime allegedly occurred)
- The defendant took property valued at more than $950
- The defendant took farm products with a value of more than $250
- The defendant took ocean and agricultural products with a value of more than $250 from a research facility
- The defendant took money, property, or labor with an aggregate value of more than $950 from his or her direct employer over a 12-month period
- The defendant took a car or firearm, regardless of its value
Some common types of situations that could lead to grand theft charges being filed in Orange County include: shoplifting a diamond necklace with a $1,000 price tag, breaking into someone’s house and stealing electronic equipment worth several thousand dollars, or embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from your employer.
California Grand Theft Penal Code § 487 PC
The law in Orange County that makes it a crime to commit grand theft is Penal Code § 487 PC.
There are many different ways in which the crime of grand theft can be carried out in Orange County, and under PC § 487, you could face grand theft charges for the following types of crimes:
- Theft by larceny – The physical taking and carrying away of another person’s property with the intent to steal it (i.e. shoplifting items valued at more than $950 from a store)
- Theft by trick – Tricking another person into willingly handing over their property for what they believe to be a temporary period, but which is actually permanent (i.e. renting a car from someone and then turning around and selling it)
- Theft by false pretense – Deceiving another person into willingly handing over their property using false claims or pretense (i.e. an art dealer tricking a customer into selling him a rare antique by claiming it is a cheap reproduction)
- Theft by embezzlement – The unlawful taking of something entrusted to you, also known as “employee theft” (i.e. using company money for personal purchases)
Perhaps the most well-known types of grand theft are grand theft auto – PC § 487(d)(1), which specifically involves the theft of an automobile, and grand theft firearm – PC § 487(d)(2), in which the stolen property includes a firearm.
Other Orange County theft crimes related to, but separate from, grand theft include: petty theft – PC § 484(a) and PC § 488, petty theft with a prior – PC § 666, burglary – PC § 459, robbery – PC § 211, forgery – PC § 470, embezzlement – PC § 503, and misappropriation of public funds – PC § 424.
What is the Difference Between Grand Theft and Petty Theft?
Under Orange County law, the crimes of petty theft and grand theft are nearly identical, the key difference between the two is the value of the property that was allegedly taken. In most cases, if the value of the stolen property is $950 or less, the crime is charged as petty theft, while any property valued at more than $950 that is stolen could result in grand theft charges.
Additionally, if you have certain serious prior convictions on your record, theft will be charged as grand theft in Orange County, regardless of the value of the property, if the property is:
- Taken “from the person” of the property owner,
- A firearm, or
- An automobile.
Grand theft penalties apply to these types of theft, regardless of the value of the stolen property, if you have a prior conviction on your record for: a sex crime that requires you to register as a sex offender, or certain serious felonies, like rape, murder, child molestation, and other forcible sex crimes.
PENALTIES FOR A GRAND THEFT CONVICTION IN ORANGE COUNTY
Being that grand theft is a more serious crime than petty theft, the criminal penalties associated with a violation of PC § 487 are steeper than those resulting from a PC § 484(a) or PC § 488 conviction.
Under Orange County law, grand theft is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the particular facts of the case.
As a misdemeanor crime, Orange County grand theft carries a potential penalty of up to one year in county jail.
However, as a felony crime, grand theft is punishable by felony probation with up to one year in county jail, or 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail.
If the grand theft offense involves the theft of a firearm, it is automatically charged as a felony, punishable by 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison, and the crime will also count as a “strike” offense on the defendant’s criminal record under California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law. Grand theft auto is also almost always charged as a felony offense.
In addition to the jail time or prison sentence imposed as the result of a grand theft conviction, there are also a number of sentencing enhancements that can be attached to this crime if the value of the property the defendant is accused of stealing was particularly high.
This means that a defendant convicted of grand theft in Orange County could be hit with the following additional and consecutive prison sentences:
- One year, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $65,000
- Two years, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $200,000
- Three years, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,300,000
- Four years, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $3,200,000
ORANGE COUNTY GRAND THEFT DEFENSE
If you are convicted of grand theft in Orange County, not only could you face imprisonment in state prison for up to three years, having a grand theft conviction on your record can adversely affect other aspects of your life, including your employment prospects and professional licensing.
Fortunately, there are several legal defenses an experienced criminal defense attorney can raise on your behalf to dispute the prosecution’s evidence against you and put forth an alternative version of events. As in any criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proof when pursuing Orange County grand theft charges.
For instance, in order to get a conviction for grand theft by false pretense, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements of that particular crime:
- You knowingly and intentionally deceived another person by making a false claim;
- You did so with the intention of persuading that person to let you take possession of their property; and
- Based on your false pretense, the person lets you take possession and ownership of their property.
It is worth noting that, if the prosecutor claims that you are guilty of more than one of the various types of grand theft mentioned earlier (by larceny, by trick, by false pretense, by embezzlement), the jury does not have to agree on in what way you violated the law, only that you unlawfully took someone else’s property in one of these ways.
Best Defense Strategies in Orange County Grand Theft Cases
Theft crimes are among the most commonly prosecuted crimes in Orange County and the penalties resulting from these crimes are surprisingly steep.
With the help of a skilled theft crimes defense lawyer, you may be able to beat grand theft charges in Orange County using one or more common legal defenses.
These may include any of the following:
- Claim of right – If, at the time the alleged theft occurred, you honestly and reasonably believed that you were entitled to the property, you cannot lawfully be found guilty of grand theft.
- Consent – If the owner of the property consented to the taking, and you acted within the scope of that consent, you would not be criminally liable under Orange County grand theft law.
- False accusation – If you were falsely accused of stealing another person’s property, your attorney may be able to get your grand theft charges dismissed.
- Lack of intent – If you took someone else’s property by mistake, without the intention of stealing it, your attorney may be able to use “lack of intent” as a defense in your grand theft case.
If your attorney can put forth arguments that challenge the prosecution’s case, thereby creating doubt in the minds of the jury that the charges against you are true, you could significantly improve your chances of getting a “not guilty” verdict.
HOW HIRING A GRAND THEFT DEFENSE ATTORNEY CAN HELP
Depending on what was stolen, the circumstances surrounding the theft and your criminal history, a grand theft conviction in Orange County can result in significant jail time or possibly even imprisonment in state prison, a punishment that can affect virtually every aspect of your personal and professional life.
No matter what type of theft crime you are facing, or how dire your situation may seem, hiring a lawyer with experience defending grand theft cases can be a tremendous asset to your defense.
Our theft crimes defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group have earned a reputation for aggressively and passionately representing the rights of the criminally accused in our community, and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.
CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED GRAND THEFT DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
The repercussions of an Orange County grand theft conviction can be far-reaching and long-lasting.
In addition to the immediate consequences of such a conviction, if your conviction is for felony grand theft with a firearm, having this “strike” prior on your record could also result in harsher penalties for future felony convictions.
There is no question that being found guilty of grand theft, or even just being arrested for the crime, can ruin your reputation and affect your standing in the community, but that just means you should fight even harder to protect your legal rights.
If you have been arrested for or charged with grand theft, our Orange County criminal defense attorneys can help.
Contact Seyb Law Group today to discuss your possible defense options.