Vista Grand Theft Defense Lawyers
Property crimes are common in Vista and San Diego County as a whole, and include minor offenses like shoplifting or juvenile delinquency. In most cases of stealing, the crimes are charged as petty theft, which is a misdemeanor in California. However, for taking certain things, a defendant may face a felony charge of grand theft. A conviction for grand theft comes with significant penalties and can change your life if you do not work with a skilled defense lawyer.
At jD LAW, lead attorney James N. Dicks has the knowledge, skill, and experience you need to beat a grand theft charge. He has fought on behalf of Vista defendants for more than 30 years and is a certified Criminal Law Specialist with the California Bar Association. He is also a former LAPD investigator who knows how the courts handle grand theft cases. If you bring your case to jD LAW, we can look into the details and go to work getting your charges reduced or dropped. Call us today at (760) 630-2000 to get a free case evaluation.
California’s theft laws are divided into two categories: petty theft (Penal Code 488) and grand theft (Penal Code 487). Both of these crimes have the same general definition. To be convicted of theft, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Knowingly took another person’s property;
- Did not have the owner’s consent to take the property;
- Moved the property away from where the owner left it for a period of time; and
- Intended to keep the property and not return it.
The San Diego County District Attorney will pursue a petty theft charge when the value of the property taken is less than $950, and pursue a grand theft charge when the property is worth $950 or more. This distinction can be a major point of contention in your case. While petty theft is a misdemeanor, grand theft is a wobbler, meaning you could face either a misdemeanor or a felony based on the nature of your crime. If you have a prior conviction, or the value of the stolen property is particularly high, you could face felony penalties.
However, your lawyer can dispute the value of the allegedly stolen property and, in some cases, get your charges dropped to petty theft. For example, someone may claim that his stolen laptop is worth $1,000 since that’s how much he paid for it, but since a few years have passed, its fair market value may actually be $700. By consulting with other experts, your lawyer can argue that your crime only involved property worth less than $950, leading to your charges being reduced.
Given that grand theft is a wobbler, you can face either misdemeanor or felony penalties. With misdemeanor charges, you can be punished with:
- Up to one year in a San Diego county jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000;
- Restitution to the victim; and/or
- Misdemeanor probation.
A felony conviction, on the other hand, can result in significant penalties, such as:
- Up to 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison;
- A fine of up to $10,000;
- Restitution to the victim; and/or
- Felony probation, which may include some time in county jail.
The sentence you are handed upon conviction will depend on several factors, including the value of the stolen property, your criminal record, and any other damages suffered by the victim. No matter what, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer who can advocate for the lightest possible sentence or a complete dismissal of your grand theft charge.
In order to beat a grand theft charge, you must launch a thorough defense. Remember, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney can go point by point through the prosecution’s arguments, evidence, and witness testimonies to show that you are not guilty or that you deserve a milder sentence.
In our experience, a grand theft defense strategy can include:
- You were not aware that you took someone else’s property.
- You believed you had a legal right to the property; for example, you thought you were receiving it as a gift, you purchased it, or you had an agreement with the owner.
- You borrowed the property with the owner’s permission and had no intention of keeping it.
- The value of the property is less than $950.
- The police performed an illegal search and seizure against you.
- The police committed another form of misconduct during your arrest.
Being arrested and charged with grand theft can be a scary situation. You may not know how or why you were arrested, but the most important thing you can do is keep silent and request an attorney. At jD LAW, our lead Vista criminal defense lawyer can take on your case and fight on your behalf. We have successfully defended many clients in Vista and San Diego County against theft charges and can provide the same excellent legal representation to you.
Do not wait to contact jD LAW at (760) 630-2000. We can speak to you immediately in a free case evaluation.
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