Grand Theft

California Penal Code 487 P.C.

Grand theft typically involves the theft of money, property or services valued at over $950.

What is a Charge of Grand Theft?

Under California Penal Code 487 P.C., you can be prosecuted for Grand Theft if you allegedly stole funds, property or services worth more than nine hundred and fifty dollars ($950.00). (If the property is worth $950.00 or less, then you will be charged with misdemeanor Petty Theft.)

To be convicted, you must have had the specific intent to permanently deprive the lawful owner of the subject property. If the property is an automobile worth more than $950, then you will be charged with Grand Theft Auto (“GTA”) under California Penal Code 487(d)(1) P.C.

Grand Theft is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that the prosecutor can charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal record.

What are Examples of Grand Theft?

Examples of Grand Theft situations include the following:

  • Using sleight of hand and distraction, you swiped a diamond necklace from a jewelry store counter.
  • While working for an investment bank, you diverted several million dollars from a client-pension fund’s account into your own.
  • You broke into an office building and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of computer equipment.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Grand Theft Charge?

To prove that you are guilty of Grand Theft under California Penal Code 487 P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 1800 and CALCRIM 1801):

  • You took possession of property owned by someone else;
  • You took the property without the owner's consent;
  • When you took the property, you intended to permanently deprive the owner of it, or to remove it from the owner's possession for such an extended period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of its value or enjoyment; and
  • You moved the property, even a small distance, and kept in for any period of time, however brief.


the value of the property is more than $950

What Happens If I am Convicted of a Grand Theft Charge?

If you are convicted of Grand Theft under California Penal Code 487 P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison (if you are convicted of a felony – see California Penal Code 489 P.C.); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of a misdemeanor – see California Penal Code 489 P.C.); and
  • Probation of three or five years (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Imposition of a stay-away order to stay away from the establishment from which you allegedly stole (if applicable);
  • Victim restitution;
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Grand Theft Charge?

Grand Theft cases can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles County Grand Theft attorney like Ninaz Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with Grand Theft, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will argue that the alleged harm never occurred, did not occur to the degree claimed, occurred but was the result of an accident or unintentional conduct, or that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove Grand Theft.

The following are the possible defenses to a Grand Theft charge:

  • Failure to take away or move property. You did not actually steal or otherwise take away the property.
  • “Claim of right”. You reasonably believed the property was yours.
  • Consent. You reasonably believed that you had the owner’s consent to take the property.
  • Lack of intent. At the time of the incident, you did not have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, or for an extended period of time.
  • Mistake. You took or moved the property by mistake or accident.
  • Value of property. The property was worth $950.00 or less.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who allegedly committed the theft. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, racial profiling, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What Kind of Grand Theft Cases Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented hundreds of clients against Grand Theft charges, including funds and property allegedly taken from all types of individuals, businesses, and properties, and has defended both adults and juveniles. She has even successfully negotiated to have Grand Theft cases dismissed or significantly reduced before her clients were actually prosecuted. See her Case Results.


If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Grand Theft criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).


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