Fonzi Preader of Campbell, California committed two separate crimes when he stole a collectible NASCAR fire suit worth $1,250 off a front porch in Los Gatos. After taking the suit, Preader offered it for sale on eBay later the same day using his girlfriend’s eBay seller I.D. The owner saw it on eBay and notified the police who went to Preader’s home and found the suit. Preader was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property.
In California, theft is divided into two degrees: grand theft and petty theft. If the value of the property taken exceeds $950 the act is considered grand theft. A grand theft, first offense can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year or both.
Petty theft occurs when the property taken is worth less than $950 but more than $50. For a first offense there is a fine of up to $1,000. Imprisonment for up to six months can also be imposed.
For thefts of $50 or less, offenders are often just charged with an infraction or a misdemeanor, at the prosecutor’s discretion. Typically these thefts carry a maximum fine of $250 and no jail.
Possession of stolen property worth more than $950 can also be punished by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. If the property possessed is worth less than $950 the charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor. The reduction of the charge is at the discretion of the prosecutor. A person cannot be convicted of both the theft of and the possession of the stolen property.
In both cases of grand theft or possession of stolen property, the victim can sue the thief for up to three times the value of the property plus costs.
It is clear that grand theft and possession of stolen property are serious charges. It helps to have an attorney who know how to defend against them and importantly, knows how to negotiate with the prosecutor who has significant discretion in the charges ultimately brought. If you have been charged with theft, contact an experienced and competent San Jose criminal law firm like Creech Liebow & Kraus, A Professional Corporation.