Theft: As Part of Overall Plan

Some theft cases involve a series of smaller takings that add up over time. Other cases involve a series of small takings from a number of different victims. In these types of theft cases, the prosecutor would rather charge the offense as one grand theft instead of numerous petty theft charges. In other cases, the person accused will assert the Bailey doctrine to combine multiple grand thefts committed as part of an overall scheme into a single offense.

California law allows the crime to be prosecuted as a grand theft when the combined value of the property was more than $950 and the defendant obtained the property as part of a single, overall plan or objective. In other states, this type of charge is called a scheme to defraud or organized theft. Many of these cases involve a theft from an employer or partners within the same business.

Attorneys for Overall Plan Theft in San Francisco, CA

If you are accused of grand theft because of a series of small thefts when the combined or aggravated value of the takings is more than $950, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers. Our attorneys represent clients in a wide variety of theft cases in San Francisco and throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Call 1 (866) 842-5384 today to talk with an attorney about the facts of your case.

Elements of Theft as Part of an Overall Plan

In some cases, the prosecutor will allege that the defendant committed more than one theft. In those cases, it must be determined whether the defendant committed multiple petty thefts or a single grand theft.

In order to prove that the defendant is guilty of a single grand theft, the following elements all must be proved beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant committed theft of property from the same owner or possessor on more than one occasion
  • The combined value of the property was more than $950
  • The defendant obtained the property as part of a single, overall plan or objective.

If the proof is not sufficient to prove the theft was part of an overall plan, then any of the multiple thefts proven are merely petty thefts. The jury instruction for theft as a part of an overall plan can be found in the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction 1802.

Under California law, the total value of the property taken must exceed $950 to be grand theft. In some cases, the defendant will commit a series of small thefts but the aggravate amount of those thefts adds up to more than $950 when the property was taken as part of an overall plan. In these cases, the prosecutor can attempt to prove the grand theft as a part of an overall plan so that the more serious penalties will apply.

Multiple Victims in a Theft Case in California

Where multiple victims are involved, there is disagreement about applying the Bailey doctrine (People v. Bailey (1961) 55 Cal.2d 514, 518-519 [11 Cal.Rptr. 543, 360 P.2d 39]) and cumulating the charges even if a single plan or intent is demonstrated. See People v. Brooks, 166 Cal.App.3d 24, 30 (1985).

For example, in Brooks, an auctioneer stole proceeds from property belonging to several people during a single auction and therefore a conviction for multiple counts of theft was in error. In People v. Columbia Research Corp., 103 Cal.App.3d Supp. 33 (1980), a series of petty thefts from numerous victims occurring over 10-month period was properly consolidated into a single grand theft conviction where the defendant employed same scheme to defraud victims of money.

On the other hand, in People v. Garcia, 224 Cal.App.3d 297, 307–309 (1990), the defendant filed fraudulent bonds at different times involving different victims and the court held that multiple convictions were proper. Likewise, in In re David D., 52 Cal.App.4th 304, 309 (1997), the court stated that Garcia “articulately criticized” Brooks and Columbia Research. In that case, the court declined to apply Bailey to multiple acts of vandalism.

Enhanced Penalties in Theft Cases under California Law

Under California law, if there are multiple charges of theft, whether grand or petty theft, if the aggregate loss exceeds any of the statutory minimums in Penal Code Section 12022.6(a), and the thefts arise from a common scheme or plan, an additional prison term may be imposed under Pen. Code, § 12022.6(b).

If the aggregate loss exceeds statutory amounts ranging from $50,000 to $2.5 million, an additional term of one to four years may be imposed. (Pen. Code, § 12022.6(a)(1)-(4).

Attorney for Overall Plan Theft in San Francisco, CA

If you were charged with any type of theft or extortion crime, including either grand theft or petty theft, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Ticket Crushers. Our offices are located on Geary Boulevard near Park Presidio in San Francisco, CA. We serve clients throughout the City of San Francisco and the surrounding areas, including Alameda County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Contra Costa County, CA.

At Ticket Crushers, our attorneys fight theft cases in the Hall of Justice Building located at 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco, CA, at all stages of the case including arraignments, preliminary hearings, motion hearings, probation violation hearings, and trials. Whether your case involves a petty theft charge for shoplifting or a more serious grand theft embezzlement, call us at 1 (866) 842-5384 to discuss your best defense.