Grand theft, also referred to as grand larceny, is a category of severity in crimes that relate to theft, or the intentional taking of another’s property without that person’s consent.
Each category of theft is based on a monetary amount that is set by each state. Grand theft is the more severe form of theft and can cause a felony conviction in some states.
Theft can usually be broken down into two categories petit, or petty, and grand. This is determined by the monetary value of the property that was taken during the theft. Theft is a charge that is convicted by each state, so whether you are charged with grand theft or petty theft will be determined by which state you were charged in.
For a grand theft conviction to occur, the prosecution must prove beyond doubt that you intended to take the property without the consent of the other person. As there can be some grey area in grand theft charges, it’s important to find an experienced attorney as soon as you’re charged.
Grand theft or grand larceny is distinguished from petty larceny or petty theft based on the worth of the property being stolen.
For example, under federal law the punishment varies greatly depending upon the value of the stolen property. In instances where the sum value of all items charged in a single case is less than $1,000 in value, the maximum sentence at the federal level is imprisonment of no more than one year in addition to fines. In cases in which that sum is greater than $1,000, the punishment is up to 10 years imprisonment as well as a steeper monetary penalty.
There is no functional difference between the terms grand larceny and grand theft. Both terms apply to the theft or misappropriation of property not belonging to the offender.
While the federal penalty for grand theft or grand larceny has been noted above, several state jurisdictions have their own laws and statutes regarding offenses involving stolen property.
Not only can various theft charges take the form of either felonies or misdemeanors depending on an individual jurisdiction and context of the offense, but also federal charges and state-level charges can be laid independently of one another, and concurrently.
In some states, for example, grand theft is defined as any intentional and unlawful taking of property valued at $300 or greater. Further, there might be felony charges for grand theft in the first, second and third degree. Third degree grand theft charges (theft of more than $300 but less than $20,000 in materials, of a firearm, of any vehicle, of a controlled substance and other particulars) result in a penalty of up to five years imprisonment, or equivalent probation, in addition to fines if convicted.
If you are convicted of second degree grand theft charges (theft of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 in material, or other particulars) you could face a punishment of up to 15 years imprisonment or probation, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Finally, those convicted of first degree grand theft ($100,000 or more of stolen property, or other particulars) could receive up to 30 years behind bars in addition to a $10,000 fine.
Theft of an automobile can often constitute grand theft, or grand theft auto, no matter the value of the vehicle stolen.
In some states, the theft of an automobile is usually prosecuted as grand theft auto under the state’s penal code. Less commonly, if you are joyriding with the intent to return the vehicle to the owner, the charge may be a misdemeanor.
Grand theft auto charges are often automatically determined to be felonies. The penalty for grand theft auto, if convicted, is between 16 months and three years in state prison as well as financial restitution. This penalty is enhanced by one year’s imprisonment if the vehicle stolen is worth over $65,000.If you are convicted of misdemeanor grand theft auto, you could face a penalty of up to one year in county jail, as well as restitution to both the victim and law enforcement agencies for costs incurred.
If you are facing grand theft charges whether at the federal level, the state level or both, it is strongly advised that you seek the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Without the assistance of a skilled lawyer, you greatly reduce your chances of mounting a successful defense in a court of law, increasing the chances of conviction.
A grand theft attorney will often have experience with those who have faced theft charges that meet the criteria of grand theft according to the statute of the State where the crime has been committed.
The goal of a grand theft attorney is to either help you get acquitted of the crime or have those charges lessened to a more minor infraction, such as a lesser degree of theft or a related charge which carries lower fines or less jail time.
No matter the crime, you have the right to a fair trial. If you have been charged with grand theft, you should find an experienced criminal attorney who understands the laws of the jurisdiction in which you have been charged.