Grand theft is a term used to describe any theft that in which the items taken exceed a certain monetary value. The exact cost of the item or items needed to constitute a theft of this magnitude may vary based on location. In the United States, grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the jurisdiction and the situation surrounding the theft. Factors which may affect how the case is charged may include whether force was used during the theft and the exact value of the stolen goods.
In some cases, items listed as beingbelow the minimum monetary value may still be counted as grand theft. Cars, for example, are generally listed as grand theft auto even in vehicles that are good for little more than scrap metal. This rule varies by location. Some areas may require that a car be in running condition, while others do not.
For someone who has committed grand theft to be tried for a felony, proof must be given that the accumulated value of any items stolen is worth a set value. If they are found to be under that value, then he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor. An item’s value may be hard to prove if it was not insured, especially since stolen property is often not recovered. When it is recovered, damage may have occurred, thus altering the overall value if the plaintiff cannot prove the damage was done after the robbery occurred.
Nearly any case of grand theft in which bodily harm or threatened bodily harm has occurred will be tried as a felony, with additional charges added. Theft when combined with bodily harm or threatened harm is considered robbery rather than theft. This crime often comes with a much harsher punishment scale, especially if the items taken are of high value. To make a case of robbery, however, it must be proven that the defendant threatened bodily harm at the time of the theft rather than at a later or earlier time.
There have been some instances in which a defendant was cleared of grand theft or robbery charges when it has been proven that the items or cash in question were owed to him or her by the plaintiff. This would mean that he was simply taking something that rightfully belonged to him, although charges of assault or threatened assault may still stand. Cases such as this are generally rare because it is very hard to prove something is owed unless there is a contract signed by both parties.