San Diego Petty Theft Attorney

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Dealing with Your Petty Theft Case

One of the most common crimes that is committed and prosecuted in California is petty theft PC 490.2 or sometimes charged as PC 484 . A petty theft is usually an incident of shoplifting, although, it can happen anywhere. Often, a commercial burglary PC 459 is charged when the prosecutor believes there is a pattern of petty thefts occurring. The key to minimizing the “overcharging” by the District Attorney or City Attorney is getting an experienced lawyer who knows how to fight the charge against you and how to minimize the damage to you and your record.

Fighting the Petty Theft

As mentioned above, petty theft is often a case of alleged shoplifting. This means certain dynamics are regularly in play.


Were there any witnesses to the alleged theft? Often, they can be other shoppers or Lost Prevention Officers. A good lawyer knows how to cross examine these witnesses to challenge what they claim to have seen.

Innocent Mistake?

Even if someone leaves a store with something they didn’t pay for, it does not mean they meant to steal it. Everyone has been distracted, put something in their cart or pocket and then forgotten about it.

Is there video?

Almost every store now has video surveillance. Two people can see the same thing and come to different conclusions. While the Loss Prevention Officer, police or prosecutor may think the video is damning, an experienced lawyer may be able to show that their conclusions were a rush to judgment.

Is the video missing?

Most stores do not keep their surveillance video very long and often the police do not bother to get a copy when they arrest someone for petty theft. Juries do not like it when video of an alleged crime is lost, and a good lawyer can convince them not to trust the witness testimony when actual video was destroyed.

Dealing with the Civil Demand

In California, someone accused of shoplifting can have the retailer demand a payment from them. The idea is that the payment helps defray the costs of loss prevention and lost revenue from other thefts.

Tips on Hiring a Lawyer

If you are accused of petty theft, you should never agree to pay the money until you talk to your lawyer. Paying the money may look like you are admitting you did something wrong.

Work with your lawyer to determine if you are going to pay and if so, how to do it so it cannot be used against you in court.

Avoiding a Criminal Record

In many petty theft cases, a good lawyer may be able to work out a deal with the prosecutor to avoid ending up with a criminal conviction on your record.

· The defendant can do community service in order to earn a dismissal or plea to a lesser charge.

· Your lawyer could work out a deal where you initially plead to the theft, but by doing well on probation you get to later withdraw the plea and have the theft charge dismissed.

Nobody wants a criminal record and a theft, even a petty theft, can run your chances of getting a good job and a host of other terrible implications. It is very important to get an excellent lawyer to fight for you and to ensure to minimize the negative impact to you and your future.

San Diego Defenders is committed to helping the common man or women that will have to otherwise carry the stigma, or criminal record (via Livescan) for the rest of their lives. Everybody deserves a second chance and the opportunity to be a productive member of society and to earn a living wage to provide an honest living.