Grand theft is a more severe offense of stealing property, money or an item of higher monetary value and is considered a minor felony in many states. Petty theft is a less serious offense and is often considered a misdemeanor.

Comparison chart

Grand Theft versus Petty Theft comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartGrand TheftPetty Theft
Other terms Grand larceny Petty larceny
Definition Intentional taking of property of others in an amount exceeding the state statutory amount. Intentional taking of property of an amount less than the state statutory amount.
Severity More serious; a felony in many states Less serious; a misdemeanor
Amount involved Varies between states, usually over $500-$1000 Varies between states, usually less than $500-$1000
Punishment Varies, but often involves a jail sentence of up to three years or a fine Varies, but can involve a fine or a jail sentence of less than 6 months

What is Grand theft and Petty theft?

A man arrested for a theft
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A man arrested for a theft

Grand theft, also known as grand larceny, is defined as the intentional taking of property of others in an amount exceeding the state statutory amount. This is usually between $500 and $1000, but is $400 in California, $300 in Florida, $300 in Illinois, and $250 in Massachusetts. Some states, like New York, also consider specific thefts, such as stealing a public record, credit card, firearm, telephone with service or motor vehicle, as grand theft automatically. Grand theft also includes property taken directly from another person, but by means other than force or fear, e.g. pick pocketing.

Petty theft is defined as the intentional taking of property of an amount less than the state statutory amount. Examples include shoplifting, bicycle theft, and stealing minor items from a residence that the thief was lawfully allowed to enter.

Severity

Grand theft is the more severe offense, and is considered a minor felony in many states.

Petty theft is the less serious offense. It is considered as a misdemeanor, but multiple charges of petty thefts can lead to a felony charge.

Charges

Punishments for grand theft and petty theft vary wildly not only between states but also between individual cities. However, the punishment for grand theft is always more severe, and can include a fine of a few thousand dollars or a jail sentence of up to three years.

The punishment for petty theft can involve a smaller fine or a jail sentence of up to six months.

Video comparing grand theft and petty theft

This is a good video that explains the difference between grand and petty theft in California.

References

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"Grand Theft vs Petty Theft." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 3 Dec 2016. < >