San Diego Petty Theft Lawyer
We are an experienced San Diego petty theft lawyer and shoplifting attorney with years of experience in defense of people like you.
Petty theft or shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, you still do not want it going into your record which can prevent future job or higher conviction any time in the future that you may get in trouble with the law.
This is why we recommend that you speak with a San Diego petty theft attorney.
San Diego Petty Theft Attorney – Penal Code 484 & 459.5 PC
When you consult with a San Diego petty theft lawyer, he or she will help you under the petty theft laws.
However, we will give you some basic overview of the law to give some ideas before contact a law firm.
When an individual is caught shoplifting, he or she will be charged with Penal Code section 484 or 459.5, also known as “petty theft.” To prove that someone is guilty of this crime, the prosecution must prove that
- The defendant took possession of property owned by someone else;
- The defendant took the property without the owner or owner’s agent consent;
- When the defendant took the property he or she intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or for such an extended period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property; AND,
- The defendant moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief.
For petty theft, the property taken can be of any value, no matter how slight.
According to the Penal Code, the maximum punishment for this offense is 180 days in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Of course, in some cases, this maximum punishment would never be imposed on a first time offender.
In fact, in San Diego County, the Superior Court has sentencing guidelines for a petty theft conviction. For a first time conviction of Penal Code 484, the defendant will likely be sentenced to the following (see below for further explanation):
- Mandatory 1 day in the county jail which can be satisfied by a “book and release;”
- 3 years probation;
- 4th Amendment Waiver;
- Stay Away Order;
- Fine of approximately $655; and,
- Possibly a shoplifter course and/or community service.
1-Day Custody or “Book and Release”
The code requires a mandatory 1 day in county jail. This can be satisfied with what is called a “book and release.” A book and release require that the defendant go to the county jail on a scheduled day and time and go through the booking process into jail and then get released. The process usually takes about 3-4 hours and the defendant is never actually put into a jail cell.
3 Years Informal Probation
The defendant will likely be sentenced to 3 years of informal probation. Informal probation means that you do not have to meet with a probation officer while on probation. You are ordered to violate no laws, minor traffic violations excluded.
4th Amendment Waiver
A 4th Amendment Waiver means that while on probation, the defendant has no 4th amendment rights to unlawful search and seizure. This means that if the defendant is pulled over or stopped by a police officer, the officer can search the defendant and his belongings without any probable cause, which would normally be required for such a search under the 4th amendment.
Stay Away Order
The defendant will be ordered to stay away from the store or victim of the theft. If the defendant were to violate this order it would be a probation violation and he could be charged with trespassing.
The shoplifting course is an anti-theft course that is usually taken in person over an 8 hour period on a Saturday. Sometimes, the court will allow the defendant to take an online course.
Community Service or Public Work Service
Community service can be performed by volunteering at any non-profit organization. Public Work Service is performed through the County Probation Department and usually involves picking up trash along the side of the freeway.
If the defendant is convicted of petty theft and has prior convictions, then the sentencing from above can be increased substantially. In fact, according to Penal Code section 666, if an individual is convicted of 3 or more types of theft, than any future convictions can be charged as a felony, no matter what the value of the property taken was. A felony under this section can carry a maximum state prison sentence of 3 years.
The great news is that with experience and skilled petty theft attorney, he or she will either get your case dismissed or work to get you the lesser penalties mentioned above.
San Diego Petty Theft Lawyers Defense Strategies
An experienced criminal lawyer can use defense strategies below to get your case dismissed or reduced:
- You are wrongfully being accused of stealing
- You already paid for the item
- You forgot that the item was there
- You were going to pay for it
- You were not trying to steal it
Let smart petty theft attorneys in San Diego County represent you and use their defense strategies to work to your advantage.
Contact us now for help with all your shoplifting and petty larceny help. Let a San Diego petty theft lawyer and shoplifting attorney answer your questions. Call to get a free consultation now.