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San Diego shoplifting and petty theft lawyers

Updated on May 4th, 2024

Charged or accused of petty theft or shoplifting in San Diego, CA? If yes, The San Diego Criminal Defense Pros can help by connecting you with one of the best San Diego petty theft attorney and shoplifting lawyer.

Calling the contact number is free and most of these criminal defense attorneys offer a FREE consultation.

Theft crime cases such as petty theft and shoplifting may seem minor but you can cause some legal and professional issues so don't ignore the possible consequences.

So speak to and hire a shoplifting and petty theft attorney in San Diego.

San Diego petty theft & shoplifting overview

San Diego petty theft or shoplifting may seem like a minor offense but you 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 petty theft attorney.

Petty theft & shoplifting laws - Penal code 484 & 459.5 PC

When you consult with a San Diego petty theft and shoplifting lawyer, he or she will help you understand the CA petty theft and shoplifting laws better

However, we will give you a basic overview of the law regarding this type of criminal offense to give some ideas before contacting a criminal defense law firm.

When an individual is caught shoplifting, he or she will be charged with California 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

  1. The defendant took possession of property owned by someone else;
  2. The defendant took the property without the owner or owner's agent's consent;
  3. 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,
  4. 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 San Diego county jail cell.

3 years informal probation

The defendant in the San Diego theft case 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, with 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 San Diego store or the 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.

Shoplifting course

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 in San Diego county.  Public Work Service is performed through the County Probation Department and usually involves picking up trash along the side of the freeway.

Multiple convictions

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 in San Diego, then 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 a skilled petty theft attorney, he or she will either get your case dismissed or work to get you the lesser penalties mentioned above.

Possible San Diego shoplifting attorneys & petty theft lawyers  defense strategies

An experienced and one of the best criminal law firms near you can use the defense strategies below to get your case dismissed or your sentence 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 an aggressive and smart petty theft attorney represent you and use his or her defense strategies to work to your advantage.

Get free consult from San Diego larceny attorneys

Contact us now to speak to criminal law firms for help with all your shoplifting and petty larceny cases.

Let a San Diego petty theft and shoplifting attorney answer your questions. 

Go to our contact page for the number to call to get a free consultation now.

We have criminal law firms on our network that might be able to help with your case.