Petty Theft (Shoplifting) – CPC 484

Being arrested for petty theft, or “shoplifting”, is a frightening experience, but you are not alone.  Sometimes when life is especially challenging, or when we are experiencing extreme financial or other stress, we can make mistakes and take actions we later regret. A Los Angeles criminal lawyer can help you deal with the difficult challenge of facing theft charges.

Understanding the Law

Under California Penal Code Section 490, the sentences and fines for theft in California vary depending on the value of the property taken. First, theft of property worth less than $50.00 exposes one to an infraction, which may require payment of a fine in an amount less than $250.00. Second, and even more serious, “petty theft”, which occurs upon the taking of property that is valued at less than $400, is a misdemeanor.  If you are convicted of petty theft, a judge may sentence you to up to six months of jail, in addition to fines that may range anywhere from $50 up to $1,000.  It is important to note, too, that the prosecution has the option to bring forth a charge againor petty theft either as a misdemeanor or infraction, a decision that usually turns whether an accused party has a record of prior convictions.  An experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyer can better advise you about the risks you face in court.

Further, you should be aware of the risk of felony conviction for petty theft under California Penal Code Section 666, which provides that upon the third petty theft conviction, you can be charged with a felony, meaning a crime punishable by one year or more in state prison. While this may seem like an unduly harsh penalty, the courts do regularly incarcerate individuals under this law.

Whether or not you have prior convictions, facing a judge following accusations of theft is a scary prospect. Don’t go into court alone when there are people who can help defend you legally, and support you during this difficult time. Call Los Angeles criminal attorney Daniel Cota today at 800-351-6860 today for help!

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