Petty Theft

Petty theft- Penal Code Section 488 is the stealing of goods valued at $400.00 or less and is a MISDEMEANOR with a maximum punishment of 1 year in county jail. Items involving stolen goods valued at less than $50.00 generally can be reduced to an infraction. Grand theft –Penal Code Section 487 is the stealing of goods valued at over $400.00 and usually charged as a FELONY with a maximum exposure of 3 years in state prison.

Sometimes a petty theft case is charged as Commercial burglary because the police believe that the person charged entered the store with intent to steal bringing with him/her items to be used to conceal the merchandise. Furthermore, a 2nd time petty theft can be charged as a FELONY exposing the accused to state prison time. 

Petty theft is the MOST COMMON property crime in the U.S. A petty theft charge is also referred to as shoplifting and anyone who leaves a store without paying for merchandise, attempts to steal a videogame or DVD by hiding it under his/her jacket, switches the tags or an item, modifies the tags, wears clothing or shoes and walks out without paying or consumes food but hides the wrap to avoid paying can be charged with shoplifting.

More amazingly, anyone who ACCIDENTALLY walks out of a store without paying for merchandise can be charged with the crime of Petty theft.

Immigration consequences of Petty theft/shoplifting - Although shoplifting might seem like a small time offense, its consequences can sometimes be very harsh. For immigration purposes petty theft is considered a crime of “moral turpitude” or dishonesty and it can render the person accused deportable or deny them an extension of their permanent residency. Petty theft can also affect your ability to become a United States Citizen if it goes on your record as a conviction. We will work hard to negotiate a resolution so that your conviction will be for trespassing or disturbing the peace which have no immigration consequences compared to a petty theft conviction.

Future employment consequences of petty theft/shoplifting – Many prospective employers are now able to check your background before hiring you and many times a petty theft on your record can be embarrassing and can cost you the job. Most employers are reluctant to hire new employees with a Shoplifting charge on their record.

Generally any type of theft crime – petty theft, grand theft, grand theft auto, fraud, larceny, shoplifting, identity theft, embezzlement, etc. – is a crime involving the taking of another’s property without their permission or knowledge, and at the same time having the intention to permanently depriving the rightful owner of it.

Theft crimes can also include violent and serious crimes such as robbery, carjacking or burglary, which often count as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.

Petty theft charges are handled differently depending on which county your case is out of. More importantly, the outcome of your charges will depend on which specific court your case is out of and whether it is the city prosecutor or the county district attorney bringing the charges against you. This is why it is extremely important that your hire an attorney that knows the local rules and can manage your case accordingly. Contact our office to speak to an attorney that knows your local court.

With the right attorney handling your case, a misdemeanor petty theft charge can be negotiated to resolve with Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) where the prosecution agrees to DISMISS the charge if our client completes a diversion program. In some cases misdemeanor sentencing may include community service, fines, restitution and informal probation. If the accused has no prior convictions and no other crimes were committed during the theft, he or she will likely receive minimum penalties.

An experienced California criminal defense lawyer will consider all aspects of your shoplifting case and look for alternative sentence options in order to minimize the consequences against you. In the alternative, if the evidence is weak our attorneys can negotiate to change the charges against you from shoplifting to disturbing the peace or trespassing.

If you have been charged with the crime of California Shoplifting, including Petty Theft or Grand Theft whatever the circumstances of your case, you deserve an understanding, compassionate petty theft crime defense lawyer who will protect your rights, defend you against the charges and work for the best solution for your situation.

Contact the experienced Los Angeles, Orange County, California petty theft criminal defense lawyers at our office to resolve your conflict at law. Representing clients in all Los Angeles communities such as Alhambra, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Downey, East Los Angeles, Glendale, Inglewood, Long Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Montebello, Redondo Beach, Norwalk, Pasadena, Pomona, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina and Whittier also representing clients in all of Orange County and Southern California courts.

Contact the attorneys who can make a difference in YOUR case. If you, a friend or a loved one is charged with Shoplifting in Los Angeles County, or facing petty theft charges in LA, don’t hesitate, pick up the phone and call our office immediately, your call is FREE! 

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