Petty Theft And Shoplifting
I’ve been charged with petty theft. What’s going to happen to me?
If you have been charged with petty theft, you should know, from the get-go, that there is nothing “petty” about the charge in terms of what consequences you may be facing. In fact, certain circumstances (including the value of the property you are accused of stealing, or a prior related conviction) may exacerbate your punishment. While a first petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor, a second or third petty theft conviction can result in a felony charge against you. This is also known as a petty theft with a prior. It is punishable by one year in the county jail or even 16 months (one year and four months) in state prison.
We have more than 60 combined years of experience defending persons accused of petty theft and shoplifting. Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney and is certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He has also been selected for inclusion in California Super Lawyers for several years and has appeared as a legal analyst on multiple cable news programs, including Fox News.
Our experience and capabilities are unmatched, and our extensive experience and knowledge give us the tools needed to successfully challenge petty theft and shoplifting charges.
But it’s just my first offense – what’s the big deal?
The biggest mistake you can do is to take this lightly. It is true that first offenses are punishable by a relatively low fine and informal probation ranging from one to three years. Here’s where the real trouble begins:
(1) You will have a “stain” on your criminal record that may unleash a financial tidal wave in your life if you cannot find employment and, therefore, pay your bills. A petty theft charge on a job application or business or professional license applicable will mostly likely result in a denial of the job or license application. The chain reaction is obvious: you would be unable to meet mortgage payments, utilities, credit card bills and probably basic living expenses.
(2) Consider the nature of a petty theft conviction, which denotes fraud and dishonesty. Figuratively, it would be like having the word “THIEF” on your forehead when you apply for a job or a business/professional license.
(3) You will have just opened the gates to a possible future felony charge should you fall into the temptation of stealing again and getting caught. That’s right. You may think to yourself, “But I’ll never do this again!” But there is no guarantee another mistake won’t be made. And if you do, you’re looking at felony petty theft, the consequences of which make a misdemeanor petty theft look like the proverbial “walk in the park.”
If you hire our firm, we will do everything possible to minimize your misdemeanor petty theft to an infraction. A traffic ticket would be an example of an infraction; in other words, a noncriminal matter. We have even been able to get charges dismissed in certain cases. However, much like a dismissal, and unlike a misdemeanor conviction, an infraction will NOT appear in your background. If we can get you a dismissal or a reduction to an infraction and you have no criminal record, you will remain “clean” because you will not have been convicted of a crime.
What if this is my second or third petty theft? Really, how much worse can things get?
A second or third theft or shoplifting offense is exponentially worse in terms of what may happen to you. The reason for this is that the prosecution may file felony petty theft charges. Also known as a petty theft with a prior, a felony petty theft conviction may cause you to serve a sentence in the county jail for one year or, even worse, 16 months in a California state prison.
Should you make the wise decision to hire us, we will do everything possible to minimize the charges and the consequences of a misdemeanor petty theft or even a felony petty theft charge.
There is a host of issues we can evaluate based on our analysis of the police reports, witness statements and other evidence on file. Based on our findings, we may be able to successfully thwart a criminal prosecution in court or otherwise weaken the case against you.
Why Choose Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, To Defend You In A Petty Theft And Shoplifting Case?
We are skilled and knowledgeable Torrance criminal defense lawyers who will use any and all available defenses to protect you against a conviction. Our experience and capabilities that we will bring to your petty theft and shoplifting defense are unmatched.