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What’s the Difference between Petty Theft and Grand Theft in the USA?

Both of these crimes involve taking someone’s possession without their consent, however, the value of the stolen goods or services is what separates them. As you will learn by the end of this article, this value can mean a lot of difference in the treatment of your case.

If you are facing theft charges, no matter if it’s petty theft or grand theft, you will need to rely on a good criminal law attorney. To learn more about what constitutes as theft, consult this article https://www.monderlaw.com/pratice-areas/theft.

Theft Checklist

In order to be convicted of a theft, there are some factors that need to be proven. The first of these is that you took the property which does not belong to you. Furthermore, the prosecution needs to prove that you have done so without the consent of the owner.

The next item on the list is that you had the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the said item. Finally, they must prove that you have moved the property. If any one of these items can be disproven in court, you have a solid case which your legal representative can use.

Value of Stolen Goods or Services

Essentially, the border value between petty and grand theft was placed at $950. Anything less than that is considered petty theft, whereas anything above it is grand theft.

In order to determine the value fairly, a system was put in place. In the case of goods, the fair market value of the goods is taken as their value, whereas the value of goods is determined by the contract signed between the two parties. If the contract does not exist, a reasonable wage for that service is taken.

Petty Theft

Petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor, which means that the penalties you are facing if convicted are much milder than in case of a felony. In most cases, a petty theft conviction may result in up to 6 months in county jail. An alternative is a fine of up to $1,000, but there is a possibility of getting an informal probation if the judge deems your case worthy of such treatment.

In some cases, particularly when the value of stolen goods is less than $50, your transgression may be classified as an infarction, meaning that you will be fined with no more than $250. On the other side, if you repeat this crime, it may be classified as a felony, depending on the judicial area you’re in.

One thing does need to be clear – this crime will end up on your permanent criminal record. What it means is that every time someone does a background check on you, they will be able to find this. It may end up costing you a job or a license you applied for.

Grand Theft

Grand theft is a wobbler crime, meaning that its classification depends on the circumstances of the crime. It may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. The deciding factor in determining this is the value of the stolen goods or services.

If your grand theft is classified as a misdemeanor, you are looking at up to one year in a county jail, or a potential informal probation. However, if your crime is classified as a felony, the punishment is more severe. The prison time you can be serving is 16 months, 2, or 3 years in a state prison, but you can also be given probation, in this case a formal one.

Theft is a serious crime, and the consequences of a theft conviction may follow you your whole life. That’s why you need to make sure to find the best legal representation possible.

To contact Monder Law Group
424 F Street, San Diego, CA, US
619-405-0063