Grand Theft Definition
Grand theft is the crime of taking someone else's property against their will with the intent of permanently depriving them of the property.
In order to be considered grand theft, the total value of what was taken must exceed a certain dollar amount. The value of the property stolen to constitute the crime as grand theft varies by locale and other specifics.
The term "property" in the grand theft definition can include money, labor, real, or personal property that lawfully belongs to another individual or group of individuals.
Grand Theft vs. Petty Theft
When the value of the stolen property does not exceed the specified dollar amount, the crime is considered petty theft. The law in all jurisdictions draws a legal distinction between petty and grand theft.
In most cases, petty theft is a misdemeanor crime that is punishable by no more than one year of incarceration and a maximum fine.
Most states consider grand theft a felony crime that carries the possibility of a much harsher penalty. The specific punishment for the felony crime of grand theft will often depend on the applicable state laws and the type of theft that took place.
Degrees of Grand Theft
Many jurisdictions classify grand theft crimes by degrees which indicate the severity of the criminal act. The degree of grand theft is often predicated by the value amount of the property that was stolen.
For example, in a given jurisdiction a fourth degree grand theft charge may involve a total $1,000 value of stolen property, whereas a first degree grand theft may involve stolen property valued at $10,000 or more.
The value amount that is associated with each degree, or level of offense, is determined by state and local law and can vary significantly by location.
Examples of Grand Theft
There are many acts which can be considered grand theft. They include:
- Shoplifting - defined as taking property, goods, or services from a place of business - can be considered grand theft if the value of the stolen goods exceeds the specified dollar amount.
- Vehicle theft is also considered grand theft as the value of most motor vehicles exceeds the value limit ascribed to petty theft.
- The taking of a firearm is considered grand theft and may be punishable by harsher penalties than grand theft of other goods similarly valued. The laws for grand theft of a firearm are often harsher due to the type of property stolen rather than the value of the property.
Grand Theft on the Rise
There are a few types of grand theft that have been on the rise in the United States. Credit card fraud, internet fraud, identity theft and the like are all white collar crimes for which an offender may be charged with grand theft.
It is estimated that 25 million Americans become the victims of consumer fraud, often considered a grand theft offense, each year.
When a person is charged with grand theft involving white collar fraud, they often face the same penalties as individuals charged with grand theft crimes involving tangibles like motor vehicles or merchandise from a business.
If you would like to learn more about grand theft and the specific laws in your state, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney who can evaluate your case to determine your rights and legal options.
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