Grand Theft

According to Penal Code 487, when the property taken in valued more that $950, then it is considered as grand theft. Grand theft is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony if the property has a high value. Misdemeanor grand theft carries a basic punishment of 3 years of informal probation, up to six months in jail, a $1000 fine, or both. Felony grand theft can get you sentenced for 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison.


Theft, also called larceny, refers to a crime of taking another person’s property without their permission or consent. Depending on the severity of the crime and the value of the property, you can be charged either with a misdemeanor or felony.

  • Larceny or Simple Theft
  • Identity Theft
  • Robbery
  • Fraud

Petty Theft

According to Penal Code 484, when the property taken is valued below $950, it is considered to be petty theft. Petty theft is considered a misdemeanor, typically punished by up to 3 years of informal probation, a maximum sentence of 6 months in county jail, a $1000 fine, or both. In some instances, such as when the value of the stolen property is small and the defendant has no criminal history, petty theft may be charged as an infraction and dismissed if the defendant completes theft education classes.

The rules differ for juveniles under 18 years old. There’s still a conviction on their records (it is usually called an adjudication of delinquency). Though the charge is still a misdemeanor, the sentence may not be as harsh. Rather than jail, a juvenile may be sent to detention, work community service, or mandated to attend a course, though they are still ordered to make restitution and pay a fine.

Some Examples of Petty Theft

  • Switching price tags for a lesser-priced item
  • Dining and dashing
  • Shoplifting clothes valued under $950

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