Penal Code 487(d)(2) PC | Grand Theft Firearm

Penal Code 487(d)(2) PC | Grand Theft Firearm

California Penal Code 487(d)(2) PC is the state’s law against grand theft of a firearm. This section makes it a wobbler offense to steal a firearm worth $950 or less. Wobbler means the prosecutor can charge it as either a misdemeanor or felony.

The crime consists of taking someone else’s firearm without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive them of ownership. Unlike other types of theft, there is no minimum value required for the stolen property. Stealing any firearm – even one worth less than $950 – is grand theft under this code section.

Elements of the Crime

To convict someone under PC 487(d)(2), the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant took possession of a firearm owned by someone else;
  • The defendant took the firearm without the owner’s consent;
  • When the defendant took the firearm he/she intended to permanently deprive the owner of it; AND
  • The defendant actually knew the property taken was a firearm.

Let’s break these down in more detail…

1. Taking a Firearm

This means the defendant gained possession of someone else’s gun through theft, robbery, burglary, embezzlement, or some other unlawful means.

It dos’nt matter if the taking only lasted temporarily – for example, borrowing a gun without asking and later returning it. Even a temporary taking with the intent to steal is enough.

2. Without Consent

The owner must not consent to the taking. This means the defendant knew he/she didn’t have permission to take the gun.

But a defendant is still guilty even if he/she had permission to take the owner’s other possessions, or believed the taking was justified. As long as the specific taking of the firearm was without consent, this element is met.

3. Intent to Deprive the Owner

The defendant must intend to permanently – not just temporarily – deprive the owner of their firearm. They must intend to take the owner’s gun for their own use or prevent the owner from getting it back.

The intent must exist at the time of the taking, or the defendant develops the intent later while in possession of the firearm.

This intent can be shown through the defendant’s conduct and the circumstances of the taking – for example, not asking the owner for permission, hiding the gun, or denying having it when confronted.

4. Knowledge it Was a Firearm

The defendant must know the property taken was a firearm. This protects people who take another’s property while reasonably believing it was something else.

But the defendant dos’nt need to know the exact type of gun. Just knowing it was a firearm is enough.


Grand theft firearm under PC 487(d)(2) can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony.


The potential sentence for misdemeanor grand theft firearm includes:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail;
  • A fine up to $1,000; and/or
  • Informal probation.


The potential sentence for felony grand theft firearm includes:

  • 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in county jail; or
  • 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison; and/or
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Factors that can increase the sentence include prior convictions for theft or having a previous felony on your record.

Legal Defenses

Having an experienced California theft crimes attorney can help raise defenses to challenge these charges, such as:

  • You had consent to take the firearm;
  • You didn’t intend to permanently keep the gun from its owner;
  • You didn’t know it was a firearm when you took it; or
  • You were falsely accused – for example, the owner lost the gun and blames you.

An attorney can also negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious offense with no jail time, such as trespassing or loitering. This depends on the facts of your case and your criminal history.

Related Offenses

Taking a firearm can also lead to charges for:

  • PC 459 – Burglary, if you enter a building/room to steal the firearm;
  • PC 211 – Robbery, if you take the gun by force or fear;
  • PC 215 – Carjacking, if you steal a car and there was a gun inside; or
  • PC 496 – Receiving stolen property, if you knew the firearm was stolen.

You could face multiple charges and consecutive sentences if convicted of stealing a firearm plus another related offense.

Legal Definitions

Under California law:

  • A “firearm” includes handguns, rifles, shotguns and assault weapons;
  • A taking is considered “permanent” if it lasts for an indefinite or unreasonable period of time; and
  • A taking is considered without consent if the owner did not actually consent or their consent was obtained by fraud or deceit.

Penal Code 487 PC – Grand Theft

PC 487 is California’s general grand theft law. It makes it a wobbler crime to steal someone else’s property worth more than $950. Grand theft applies to stealing cars, money, and other valuable property.

But 487(d)(2) is different because it applies to stealing any firearm, no matter how much it’s worth. The prosecutor dos’nt have to prove the gun was worth more than $950.

Sentencing Enhancements

Several sentencing enhancements can make the penalties for stealing a firearm even worse:

  • PC 12022.53 – 10 years added to the sentence for using a gun in committing the theft;
  • PC 186.22(b)(1) – 2, 3 or 4 years added for gang-related theft; and/or
  • PC 667(a) – 5 years added if you have a prior “serious” felony conviction.

With these enhancements, stealing a firearm could lead to a sentence over 10 years in state prison.

Hiring an Attorney

Grand theft firearm charges must be taken seriously. An experienced lawyer can often get these charges reduced or dismissed. But you need someone who understands theft crimes and aggressively defends clients in court.

For a free consultation about your case, call us today. Our attorneys create personalized defense strategies to avoid jail time and keep firearms charges off your record.


CALCRIM No. 1800. Theft Crimes: Grand Theft (Penal Code Section 487).

California Penal Code 487 PC – Grand theft defined.