Like many other criminal offenses, there are several degrees of theft. If the police arrest you and the courts charge you for theft in the state of California, it is possible for the courts to charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony.
What the courts charge you with depends on the nature of the offense. According to Findlaw, in the state of California petty theft is usually a misdemeanor or infraction whereas grand theft is a felony.
Petty theft and grand theft
The general difference between petty theft and grand theft in California is when the property stolen is worth more than $950. If the property is worth more than this, the courts will charge you with grand theft. If it is less, the courts will charge you with petty theft.
There are several mitigating circumstances, however. For instance, if you steal a firearm the courts may charge you with grand theft even if the firearm is worth less than $950. Additionally, if you stole something directly off of a person’s being as compared to stealing from an empty house or shoplifting, the courts may charge you with grand theft.
What are the charges?
If the item is worth less than $50, the prosecution may either charge the individual with a misdemeanor or an infraction, and there may be a fine of up to $250. If the property is worth more than this, petty theft may result in a fine of up to $1000 and a jail sentence of 6 months.
Typically, a grand theft sentence involves jail time of no more than three years. However, a prior criminal record may increase the severity of the sentence.