Difference Between Grand Theft and Petty Theft and How Law Enforcement Works

The act of physically taking away a potentially valuable item without the owner’s permission and with the purpose of permanently depriving them of it is referred to as theft. A desire to destroy, sell, or abandon the stolen goods in a place where they won’t be found is sufficient; the criminal need not want to keep it themselves. 

Selling the stolen car or its components is a common practice in the case of auto theft, for instance. 

In the situation of alleged charges of theft, A theft lawyer  with experience and commitment will be dedicated to protecting your rights. There are always choices that you should be aware of whether you are accused of minor theft or grand theft. You can only get the best possible outcome if you hire a qualified theft lawyer with a track record of success.

Theft law covers a wide range of offenses where the offender takes money, property, services, or other items with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the item. These crimes are committed at all three tiers of government; federal, state, and local. The worth of the property taken by the defendant is typically referenced in theft statutes, with increasing penalties based on this. 

Courts in all jurisdictions will require those found guilty of theft to make restitution by compensating victims for their losses in addition to imposing jail time, fines, and other penalties.

Sometimes simply intending to temporarily deprive the owner of the property is more than enough for a crime to be considered as theft, like when a car is taken for a “joyride” and subsequently abandoned in a fashion that allows the owner to recover it.

Difference Between Grand Theft and Petty Theft 

Grand theft and petty theft are two common categories of stealing. The offense may be upgraded to grand theft if the value of the stolen goods exceeds a predetermined threshold set by the state’s statute.  Whether theft is great or small may depend on the kind of commodities that were taken. 

Grand theft, for instance, is defined by California Penal Code Section 487 as theft that involves an automobile, a pistol, or another item valued at more than $950.

Petty theft is defined by California Penal Code Section 488 as theft that is not grand theft. Petty theft is a misdemeanor, although grand theft can be either, depending on the circumstances and jurisdiction.

Grand Theft Is a More Serious Offense in Comparison  to Petty Theft 

Grand theft is a more serious crime that involves stealing items with a higher monetary worth, and it is regarded as a petty felony at times in many places. Small-time stealing is a less serious crime that is frequently regarded as a misdemeanor. 

A person may be charged with theft if they are caught stealing someone else’s property. The offense will be classified as either petty theft or grand theft depending on the value of the stolen goods.

One of the “wobbler” crimes is grand theft. These are offenses that can be prosecuted as felonies or misdemeanors. Therefore, grand theft is both a misdemeanor and a felony, to answer the question.

The only time this does not apply is when a firearm is taken. When a firearm is stolen, the perpetrator is taken into custody and prosecuted for grand theft, a serious offense. Grand theft is a felony that carries a maximum three-year jail sentence.

Four Major Categories of  Grand Theft

Theft does not always appear to be the same. Although there are many different ways to conduct theft, there are essentially four categories. As technology advances and society develops, new ways to steal might emerge, but the four main categories of grand theft are the following:


Larceny happens when someone steals $950 or more worth of another person’s property without that person’s consent, moves that property and keeps it with the goal of retaining it forever or long enough to deprive the property’s lawful owner of it. In essence, this is a straightforward theft in which someone merely takes one of your possessions and keeps it.

False Pretenses: 

False pretense theft happens when someone purposefully and knowingly misleads someone to allow them to give up $950 or more in their property. The victim is duped into believing this under false pretenses. In this kind of theft, the victim knowingly gives up their belongings, but only after being duped.


This happens whenever someone purposefully and consciously gets $950 or more of someone else’s property through fraud or deception. They can also gain possession of the property for a while with the intent to rob the legitimate owner of it, or any combination of these. It would be a deception if someone requested to use your phone for a call but then took off with it.


Embezzlement occurs when someone is trusted with another person’s property worth $950 or more and they go ahead and use it fraudulently for their own gain. It would be a type of embezzlement to use money from something you are supposed to manage to pay your own bills.

Punishment for Grand Theft as well as Petty Theft 

Petty Theft

The prosecution has the option to charge petty theft as either a misdemeanor or an infraction if the value of the property taken is less than $500 and the accused has no prior convictions for theft or crimes related to theft. 

A $250 fee is typically imposed as punishment for an offense. If the matter is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, a conviction will result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a potential sentence of up to six months in county jail. With the aid of a theft attorney, a person accused of first-time petty theft can typically have the fine reduced and avoid going to jail.

Grand theft

Charges for grand theft can be either felonies or misdemeanors. The maximum punishment, if it is charged as a misdemeanor, is one year in county jail. A conviction for felony grand theft carries a sentence of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison. Grand theft that involves the theft of a firearm is considered a crime and is subject to a 16-month, 2-year, or 3-year sentence in state prison.

The use of force or the threat of force is a component of the most severe theft offenses. Robbery is the one that stands out the most among these. Robberies in some cases, including muggings, bank heists, and carjackings, are simple to identify. 

Sometimes robbery accusations are unexpected, especially for people who have been accused of committing a crime that might seem to not be as serious at first. For instance, someone who is caught shoplifting and then tries to escape with the stolen goods by physically eluding a security guard’s hold may very well be guilty of robbery.


To conclude the above discussion, theft is typically regarded as minor and may result in misdemeanor charges if the total value of the stolen goods is $500 or less. Theft is classified as grand theft when the value of the stolen goods exceeds $500 and can result in criminal charges.

It is significant to remember that people who steal multiple items will be held accountable for the full value of the items they took. That means a person will be charged with grand theft if they steal two goods that are each worth $300.