What is the difference between petty theft and grand theft?
how does the criminal charges change for one or another?
Theft of an item or money is usually filed as a Petty or Grand Theft. The common distinction between the two is the value of the item or the amount of the money taken. If this number is below $950, it is usually filed as a Petty Theft. If the value of the item or the amount is above $950, the case usually becomes a Grand Theft case. A Grand Theft case may be filed as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Penal Code Sections 484, 487, 489, 490, and 490.5 distinguish the two thefts and also provide punishment for each. Likewise, Section 490.1 allows for the case to be filed as an infraction if the value of the item is less than $50.
Petty Theft: Taking clothing from a store without paying for them is a very common type of theft. Store security personnel are the ones that make a citizen’s arrest and call the police. Many people try to reason or even bargain with the security personnel without knowing that it will not change their situation one bit. Many stores give raises in salary to the security people that apprehend customers attempting to steal. No explanation or excuse, or even begging is going to make a security guard part with a raise that’s coming to him/her. Your best course of action is to say nothing and sign nothing. Tell the security personnel that they do not have your permission to search you or your belongings, but certainly do not resist if they attempt to do so. Simply wait for the police.
Grand Theft: Grand theft (California Penal Code Section 487). Any theft crime with a loss amount over $950 can be charged as a Grand Theft. The criminal violation of Grand Theft is applicable to any theft crime whether a White Collar crime or violent crime. As such, Grand Theft is typically charged in a variety of cases along the underlying alleged criminal offenses. Grand theft, however, is a wobbler meaning that it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. This also means that if a person is found guilty of a felony Grand Theft, the conviction can be, later, reduced to a misdemeanor and subsequently expunged.
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