blog home Theft Crimes What Is the Difference Between Grand Theft and Petty Theft?

What Is the Difference Between Grand Theft and Petty Theft?

By San Diego Attorney on July 12, 2017

Throughout the State of California, theft is considered either grand or petty. Both of these are crimes against another individual’s property, and the category that your theft will fall under depends on the amount of property stolen, and how the property was stolen. So what is the difference between grand theft and petty theft?

Grand Theft

Under California Penal Code Section 486, grand theft occurs when the value of property stolen is greater than $950. There are two exceptions to this. The first is if a firearm is used during the course of the theft; and the second is when the property was taken right off a person.

So if someone broke into a car to steal a stereo valued at $600, and he or she wielded a firearm while doing so, this would still be considered grand theft because a firearm was used. And if someone robbed another person on the street for his wallet containing only $200, this would still be considered grand theft because the robber stole the goods off a person.

Grand theft has strict penalties in California. It is a felony; and convicted individuals face anywhere from six months to three years in jail. If there are other circumstances, such as the accused having a prior criminal history, a judge is likely to extend that sentence and call for even more time in jail.

Petty Theft

Petty theft is a much less severe crime in California. Petty theft is the theft of an item(s) that is under $950 as set out in the California Criminal Code, which does not involve the use of a firearm, and is not stolen off a person. Sentences may be as little as a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail, or both.

If the value of stolen property is below $50, a California judge may treat the crime as a misdemeanor and fine the individual $250. Just like in grand theft, if there are circumstances such as a prior criminal history, it is within the judge’s discretion to increase the sentence.

There are defenses to both grand theft and petty theft in California, but accused individuals must hire an attorney experienced with these cases in order to successfully defend against them.

At JD Law, we have the experience to help. If you have been charged with either grand theft or petty theft, call us today at (760) 630-2000. We will review your case with you and give you your best chance at a successful outcome in court.

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A note from James N. Dicks:

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law.

Currently San Diego Superior Courts are closed but are set to reopen on Tuesday May 26th, 2020 barring any
future orders.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family. Please follow us on Facebook for any future updates.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law.

Los Tribunales Superiores de San Diego están cerrados, pero están programados para reabrir el martes 26 de mayo de 2020, salvo una nueva orden.

No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia. Síganos en Facebook para seguir siendo informado de novedades nuevas.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law. No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia.

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