Stealing a firearm, also called grand theft firearm or GTF, is a felony offense with no consideration for reducing the crime to a misdemeanor like “wobbler” offenses. It makes no difference regarding the value of the firearm unlike other theft offenses where anything stolen with a value of $950 or less is a petty theft.
The elements of grand theft firearm are simple:
- Unlawfully taking a firearm
- Without the consent of the owner
- With the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the firearm
Many thefts of firearms are committed during a burglary of a business or residence, thus subjecting the offender to a first or second degree burglary charge.
Taking property from someone’s immediate possession by force or the threat of force is robbery. You can be charged with both robbery and grand theft firearm.
- Receiving stolen property
Taking, possessing or buying a firearm you know to be stolen or should reasonably know is stolen is a crime.
Possible Defenses to Grand Theft Auto
- Lack of intent
If you believed the firearm belonged to you, called a “claim of right,” and can show circumstances that support that belief, there may be no element of intent to steal. You still cannot break into someone’s home to take the weapon as you are subject to other crimes such as criminal trespassing and possibly burglary. If you try to take the weapon by force or the threat of force, you are still subject to assault and possibly robbery.
- Violation of rights
It is not uncommon for law enforcement to violate your Constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, self-incrimination and the right to counsel during questioning. Evidence may be deemed inadmissible if a court determines that an allegedly stolen firearm was illegally seized, that you were forced to confess that you stole one or made a confession after requesting an attorney and were denied access to one.
Penalties for Grand Theft Firearm
Since GTF is a felony, you are subject to being incarcerated in state prison for 16 months, 2 or 3 years.
More significantly, GTF is considered a serious felony and qualifies as a strike under California’s three strikes law. If you have a previous strike or receive a second strike, you must serve 85% of your prison sentence before being eligible for parole. A third strike is a mandatory 25-years to life sentence.
Under federal immigration law, if you are an alien or permanent resident and you commit a crime of moral turpitude like grand theft auto, you may have serious immigration consequences. In some cases, you could face potential deportation and not be eligible for cancellation of removal relief.
Call the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis
Facing a charge of grand theft auto or a related offense can result in serious prison time and have long range or permanent adverse consequences on your life. If you have been charged with grand theft auto, call the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis today for a free, confidential initial consultation at (213) 687-4412.