Petty theft in California is the taking of property when the amount of property is alleged to be less than $400.00. It is an increasingly common misdemeanor charge. Being accused of stealing items, even in a small amount, can be devastating to a person's future, especially when applying for future employment. Furthermore, the consequences of a petty theft conviction can result in severe punishment if a person has been convicted of a petty theft crime in the past. One prior misdemeanor conviction for petty theft can make a second misdemeanor petty theft a felony which could potentially result in jail or prison time. At White Goldstein we understand that pleading guilty to a theft crime, even as a misdemeanor, is not an option for our clients.
Petty Theft Defenses
In some instances, the prosecution may be unable to show a specific intent to steal because of a person's particular state of mind. Defenses may include mental impairment that is the result of a psychiatric mental health issue, or a psychological issue such as lack of impulse control, or even intoxication at the time of the incident.
Petty Theft Sentencing Alternatives
Even if none of these factors apply, aggressive negotiation can result in the dismissal of the theft charge in exchange for theft counseling, a lesser offense such as trespass, petty theft as an infraction, or even an informal type diversion program where the case will be dismissed at the conclusion of a specific period of time (often 1-3 years). A dismissal pursuant to diversion is contingent upon a person obeying all laws, i.e., no new arrests, and the completion of certain agreed upon requirements such as community service, payment of fines, and reimbursement or restitution of any costs, or losses, suffered by the alleged victim of theft.
Another alternative to sentencing may be a civil compromise. When the amount of the property alleged to be taken is small, sometimes the business will agree to a civil compromise where in exchange for the full repayment of restitution, the business agrees that the criminal case may be dismissed. Negotiating for a civil compromise requires a skilled and experienced attorney. At White Goldstein, we have successfully negotiated with numerous individuals, small businesses, and large corporations to obtain civil compromises on behalf of our clients.
If you are facing a petty theft charge, then you need an experienced, and highly qualified law firm to fight for you. At White Goldstein we have successfully defended against countless petty theft allegations. Contact us at (877) 779-3946 so we can start building your defense today.