Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
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Petty theft is considered a Class A misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 9 months in jail and/or a $10,000.00 fine. These are maximum penalties. This is NOT what you can expect for a first offense.A first offense is always going to be treated more lightly than someone who is a repeat offender, whether it is petty theft or not. A judge is more likely to give the maximum penalty to someone who didn't learn his or her lesson the first time.
First Offense Options
Deferred judgment or diversion has become an option in many states when it comes to petty theft. If you have never been convicted of petty theft, or a similar crime, and have never participated in a diversion or deferred judgment program, you may be eligible.
Deferred Judgment Program
A diversion or deferred judgment program will have the charges dropped under the stipulation that you do not commit another crime in the course of your determined probation period. While you'll still be responsible for paying court fees and fines, one of these programs will keep the charge of petty theft off your permanent record.
If you qualify for diversion or deferred judgment you will first be responsible to pay all fines and fees required by the court. By entering one of these programs you are also agreeing to waive your constitutional rights to a formal arraignment and a jury trial on the petty theft charges against you.
Most jurisdictions will require you to attend and successfully complete a correction counseling program related to your offense, whether it is shoplifting, etc. You will also be responsible for making full restitution to the victim in your petty theft case. During the time of your petty theft probation you are not allowed to violate the laws of any city, state, or of the United States. The judge in your petty theft case has the authority to enter any other conditions he or she deems appropriate to your specific case.You may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in criminal law to discuss the specific facts of your case. Sometimes an initial consultation is free or at a minimal charge. You can assess your options and decide how to proceed.I hope you find this information useful and that you PRESS THE GREEN ACCEPT BUTTON so that I can get credit for answering the question. Thank you.
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