If you are arrested for stealing something worth less than $950, you should call a Vista petty theft lawyer as soon as possible. Remember that what you say can be used against you, which is why you should always insist on speaking to an attorney before talking to the police.
What is Petty Theft in California?
Most thefts that do not involve firearms, vehicles or violence against the victim are either grand or petty theft. The difference between the two charges is that petty theft is a misdemeanor charge that occurs when the stolen property is valued at under $950. When the property is valued at more than that, it is grand theft.
While grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, petty theft is always a misdemeanor, so if the value of the stolen property is just over $950, a defense attorney may be able to negotiate for the charges to be filed as petty theft. When the amount is low, these charges may occasionally be dropped at the victim’s request if you pay them back the full value of the stolen property, though this should not be attempted without the help of a criminal attorney familiar with this process.
Prosecutors even have the discretion to reduce these charges to an infraction. This is important because a misdemeanor charge requires a defendant to go through the book and release process at the jail and it will count as a prior conviction on your record, whereas infractions merely result in a fine and do not appear on your criminal record. The most common form of this crime shoplifting, but fraud is also very common. If you are convicted of petty theft, you could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.
Defenses to Theft Crimes
Fortunately, there are a lot of potential defenses against this crime. Illegal search and seizure, improper arrests, false accusations and more can lead to the charges getting dropped. Similarly, your Vista petty theft attorney could also argue that you did not intend to take the item or that the item was actually yours to begin with. This is why it is so important to remain silent until you speak to an lawyer, trying to explain your situation may end up hurting your defense later on.
If you have been accused of any type of theft crime, please call Vista petty theft lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.