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Most shoplifting charges are considered petty theft in California. Even though these crimes are typically charged at the misdemeanor level, they should still be taken seriously. Many employers will pass over an applicant who has a criminal record, and there’s no telling all of the other ways that having a conviction on your record might affect your life. Fortunately, a capable Los Angeles shoplifting attorney can help you deal with these charges. With the right approach, it may be possible to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. Why take chances when your future is on the line? Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you in court on shoplifting charges in California.
Shoplifting and Petty Theft in California
Petty theft and shoplifting are among the most frequently charged property crimes in the state. Whenever a suspect is accused of stealing items with a value of $950 or less, they may be charged with shoplifting or petty theft. Stealing items worth more than $950 is generally categorized as grand theft. These charges usually come at the felony level, which can be quite serious for the defendant. However, even though shoplifting is almost always charged as a misdemeanor, it should be treated just as seriously. If you are convicted of a shoplifting misdemeanor in California once and are caught and charged with the same crime once or twice more, then you may be looking at a felony conviction. It is far better to avoid these circumstances if possible. Working with a seasoned California petty theft defense attorney is your best option.
Los Angeles Diversion Program
If you have been arrested for shoplifting in Los Angeles, then you need to act quickly to preserve your rights. When a defense attorney gets involved at the initial stages of the case, you stand a much better chance of being eligible for a diversion program that may effectively dismiss the charges against you. Clearly, this is a much better alternative than pleading guilty.
Los Angeles County has enacted Penal Code Section 1001.94, which makes this diversion program possible. This law empowers judges to defer sentencing while the defendant participates in the diversion program. Upon full completion of the program, the defendant’s charges are likely to be dismissed. This diversion program is a wonderful opportunity that is specifically designed for first-time offenders. It’s a tremendous way to avoid creating a criminal record while proactively dealing with the requirements of the court. Best of all, the prosecuting attorney does not have to agree to the defendant’s enrollment in the diversion program. The judge can decide to send the defendant to diversion even over the protests of the prosecutor.
Creative Solutions for Los Angeles Shoplifting Charges
The diversion program is not the only option for people who are accused of shoplifting in Los Angeles. Sometimes it is possible to get the charges against the defendant reduced. Trespassing or disturbing the peace are the most likely reduced charges. Depending upon the value of the goods taken, it is possible to have the charges reduced from a misdemeanor to a mere infraction. That is certainly good news for a first-time offender or even for someone who is trying to avoid adding to an existing record. Of course, these outcomes can only be brought about as a result of the efforts of a qualified California shoplifting attorney.
Consequences for a Shoplifting Conviction in California
Although it is a misdemeanor, it is possible to be sentenced to up to one year in county jail for shoplifting. Many defendants are also required to make restitution, pay for court costs and complete a period of formal parole. Just as bad, the person convicted of shoplifting now has a criminal record. This can have repercussions that will affect this person for the rest of their life. It is genuinely in the best interests of the defendant to hire a criminal defense attorney who is willing to mount an aggressive defense.
Elements of Shoplifting in Los Angeles
It is up to the prosecution to prove that that the defendant actually stole the items in question. Moreover, they may try to seek commercial burglary charges if they think that the defendant intended to steal something upon entering the store. They may do this by showing that the defendant possessed means for concealing merchandise. A good criminal defense attorney can bring these and other elements into question. Meanwhile, your lawyer will also be negotiating with the prosecution in an attempt to get the charges against you reduced or dropped.
Implications for Immigration from Petty Theft Charges
Many people in Los Angeles are still in the process of obtaining their American citizenship. Charges of petty theft can derail those ambitions. Shoplifting and other petty theft offenses are considered to be signs of moral turpitude. Accordingly, a person who is not yet a citizen may be subject to deportation or may be denied any extension on a permanent residency visa. Hiring the right Los Angeles petty theft lawyer is even more important for these individuals who are seeking citizenship. Having the charges against you reduced or dropped can keep your hopes of citizenship alive.
Talk with a Los Angeles Shoplifting Attorney
Don’t wait to hire a criminal defense attorney. The sooner your attorney starts working on your case, the better your chances are of being approved for diversion or reduced charges. Contact one of our experienced lawyers today.