Grand Theft Defenses

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What is Grand Theft?

Grand theft is a specific type of theft crime.  Definitions of grand theft may vary according to state or local statutes.  These generally have to do with the amount of property or cash that was stolen.  There may also be varying degrees of grand theft.

For instance, thefts of very small amounts of money (in the 10’s or 100’s of dollars) will usually result in petty theft charges.  However, thefts of property that is worth thousands of dollars may result in grand theft charges, which are more serious.  Some states have dollar amounts corresponding to the degree of seriousness (for instance, $500-$5,000 may be 2nd degree grand theft, $5,000 and above is 1st degree grand theft, etc.)

Grand theft can sometimes refer to certain thefts of automobiles or other vehicles, in which case it is usually called “grand theft auto”.

What are Some Grand Theft Defenses?

One main defense to grand theft is that the claim that the amount of property stolen did not actually reach the statutory level to be classified as grand theft.  In such cases, the charges may be reduced to less serious misdemeanor charges rather than felony grand theft.  This can happen for instance if there are wrong calculations or market values involved when analyzing the property stolen.

Another common grand theft defense is lack of criminal intent.  In most states, grand theft requires that the person intended to deprive another person of the money or property.  Thus, if the defendant believed that the property was actually theirs, they might not be found guilty of grand theft. 

Other grand theft defenses may include more standard criminal defenses like intoxication, coercion, or a lack of evidence to prove the elements of theft.

What are Some Penalties for Grand Theft?

Grand theft is generally classified as a felony crime.  Penalties and sentencing for grand theft may include time in a prison facility (greater than one year), and some criminal fines.  Usually, the higher the amount that was stolen, the greater the legal penalties will be (longer sentences and higher fines).  Again, sentences can be reduced or even negated in some cases, especially where the amount stolen is under dispute. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Grand Theft Defenses?

As felony charges, grand theft charges are very serious marks on one’s record.  It is in your best interests to hire a qualified criminal law attorney in your area if you need help with grand theft defenses.  Your attorney can instruct you on how to proceed, and can provide you with the proper legal guidance for raising a defense. 

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Last Modified: 04-10-2013 02:33 PM PDT

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