Is Grand Theft Auto A Real Crime?

Is Grand Theft Auto A Real Crime?

by Oct 22, 2020

These days, if you hear the term “grand theft auto”, there’s a very high chance the person using it is referring to the popular video games series. But is grand theft auto actually a real crime listed in the California penal code? As a matter of fact, yes it is.

What Is Grand Theft?

Theft in California typically falls into two categories: petty theft and grand theft. The difference between them is the value of the property stolen:

Petty Theft is defined as unlawfully taking someone else’s property valued at less than $950.

Grand Theft is defined as unlawfully taking someone else’s property valued at $950 or more.

Grand theft auto simply refers to someone who is being charged with stealing an automobile worth more than $950. Since very few cars (at least, ones that would be worth attempting to steal in the first place) are worth less than $950, just about any automobile theft in California will qualify as “grand theft auto” when charges are being considered.

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Penalties For Grand Theft

Grand theft is what’s known as a “wobbler crime”, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances.

For example, all of the following would be considered grand theft:

  • Shoplifting jewelry worth $1,000
  • Embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from an employer
  • Breaking into a house and stealing thousands of dollars worth of property

Even though each of those crimes qualifies as grand theft, the circumstances in each of them are very different. This is why grand theft is a wobbler crime.

For misdemeanor grand theft, the maximum potential sentence is up to one year in county jail.

For felony grand theft, the penalty is up to three years of incarceration in prison.

You Need A Real Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with grand theft of any kind, you need to call a real criminal defense attorney right away. Even if you’ve only been charged with a misdemeanor, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to have the charges further reduced or dropped entirely.

At Quinnan Law, we have extensive experience defending our clients against all types of theft charges. To learn how we can help with your defense, please contact our office today.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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