Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Thank you for the information and your question and I am sorry to read about your situation. Can you tell me about how much the merchandise was worth that you were alleged to have taken and briefly the facts of the arrest (how were you stopped and why, etc.)? Also, do you have any prior convictions, especially for shoplifting? Finally, do you know the exact charge you are facing (should have a statutory citation) and have you hired an attorney to represent you for this case?
Hello again and thank you for your reply. First, I would highly recommend that you hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you if you can afford one. If you cannot afford one and qualify under the law for a public defender, then the court will appoint one at your first hearing. The maximum penalty for most first-time petty theft conviction is a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), up to six (6) months in county jail, or both. However, the typical punishment is a fine and probation. The fine is set usually in line with the value of what was allegedly going to be stolen or was stolen. In some cases, your attorney may be able to get a deferred sentence for you. What that means is that if you don't get in trouble again within a certain period of time, usually a year, the court will dismiss the charge and you won't have a conviction on your record. That though is something your attorney would need to work out with the prosecutor and the court.
Of course, your attorney may also be able to get the charge dropped if the evidence against you is not sufficient for a conviction. As for the civil fine that the store is charging, that is allowed under California law. If you don't pay it, they can sue you and it would also work against you with your criminal case.
Please feel free to ask for clarification if needed. If none is needed, then if you could take a few moments to leave a positive rating in the box above, I will receive credit for assisting you today. Thank you
Yes, that is correct, although, as I mentioned, you could get even a better deal with a deferred prosecution, which would ultimately result in a dismissal of the charge. You would still have to pay a fine, but then, assuming you complied with court orders, you could get the whole charge dismissed.