California’s “Grand Theft” Law

Being charged with a crime is never a positive experience for anyone, but there are some crimes that are considered very serious that actually have a low threshold when the prosecution is considering the appropriate charge. One of those low-threshold crime classifications is grand theft.

The mere concept of being convicted of grand theft can have a serious detrimental impact on the defendant, even before the charge finally becomes a conviction. When the possible fallout of a grand theft charge is evaluated, the defendant will find that having an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney will be necessary, as well as having a reputable and dependable bail bond agency.

Misdemeanor or Felony

The good thing about being charged with grand theft in California is that it can be charged as a misdemeanor as well as a felony. The prosecuting attorney must determine if the egregious nature of the charge rises to the level of a felony. The threshold for being charged with grand theft as opposed to standard theft is the financial value of the theft. In California, grand theft can be charged when the value of the stolen merchandise is $950 or more, meaning that grand theft felony charges could be applied in many theft cases. Of course, California is a “three strikes” state, which means that felonies are counted in subsequent charges and can be enhanced by the felony classification of a theft value of less than $1000. Those defendants stranded in this charge median could ultimately see a long incarceration term if convicted in multiple instances.


Penalties for grand theft can range from up to one year in a local jail facility for a misdemeanor to up to three years in a state facility for a felony conviction. Luckily, prosecutors can be bargained down one step from a felony to a misdemeanor charge in cases that may be explained away or no egregious intent is involved. Extenuating circumstances can make a major difference in any grand theft case, including the amount of bail needed to be released in order to begin developing a defense or retaining an attorney. It is very difficult to defend a charge from inside the jail, including finding the proper legal representative to handle your case.

What many defendants do not realize is that their choice of a bail bonding agency can be just as important as the attorney chosen to defend the case. Reputable bail bonding agencies can impact a court decision to set or reduce bail when the charge does not hold serious muster. In addition, specific bail bonding companies that work with attorneys on a regular basis can be a solid reference when an attorney is deciding on accepting a grand theft case. While the grand theft charge initially indicates the seriousness of the charge, the truth is that prosecutors have extensive latitude when deciding the appropriate charge and criminal defense attorneys understand the latitude in California law regarding theft.

Always remember that choosing a bail bonding company can be just as important as choosing the right attorney to represent your grand theft case because bonding agencies that work regularly with the court understand the nuance in the law, as well as understanding that all of those indicted for grand theft is not necessarily guilty.
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