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I was charged with petty theft of textbooks the day after…

I was charged with...

I was charged with petty theft of textbooks the day after finals ended. This was my first offense. I am 20 years old. I am extremely remorseful of my actions, and I am anxious of what my consequences may be. I stole due to financial anxiety, lack of judgement (perhaps by lack of sleep). I am a student at UC San Diego. I am willing to undergo divergence, pay a fine, and even take probation. I however, am terrified of going to jail. I do not feel it would help me, as I have learned my lesson during interrogation, and I have school to attend to. I am missing classes due to my court case.

Lawyer's Assistant: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

California

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?

No

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

How much does it cost? I don't have much money.

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Answered in 10 minutes by:
12/19/2017
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 31,869
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hi,

I'm Zoey.

I've reviewed your post. What is the value of the property stolen?

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Typically, on a first arrest of this sort, a diversion-type of disposition can be worked out. Jail is almost entirely unlikely for a first petty theft offense in my experience unless you either warrant on your case or take the case all the way to trial and lose.

You can contact the DA assigned to your case before your court date and ask for a diversion disposition or some other possibility that will keep a theft conviction off of your record. If the DA says no or won't bargain with you, on your arraignment date, plead not guilty to the offense and ask the judge to appoint you a public defender.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
The value was about $440 if I remember correctly. It was less than 50% of the upper limit for petty theft in CA, $950.And how do I find the DA for my area?

Call the DA's Office and ask the telephone receptionist for the name and extension number of the DA assigned to the case of State v. [your name]. She can find it in the computer and give you the information.

Some DAs will talk to you. Others do not like to negotiate a deal with an unrepresented defendant anywhere but in court before the judge, to prevent any misunderstanding of the terms of the agreement.

If your DA won't talk to you except in court before the judge, plead not guilty in court and ask for a public defender. You're a student and should be eligible for free representation.

You're not going to go to jail for this, but you don't want to have a misdemeanor conviction on your record if you can help it.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
My DA is Summer Stephan. I do not know much about her. Do you have any insights beyond what is on her site?

Sorry for the delay. I am on the East Coast and it was midnight when your question came through. I'd already turned off my computer.

You know infinitely more about your DA than I do. If you don't want to call her, just plead not guilty at your arraignment and ask the judge for a free lawyer. Then the lawyer can negotiate with her.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
How long do such cases typically take? Hours? Days? Weeks?

Depends on what you want to happen. If you want to take the case to trial you could come back to court for a year or more.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
if I pled guilty, what then? Because there is evidence against me, I have shown remorse, and upon interrogation, I showed willingness to pay damages, but requested financial assistance.

If you plead guilty to this charge you will have a criminal conviction for a theft offense, which can hamper you both personally and professionally. You need to get a lawyer to negotiate a disposition which can keep a conviction off of your record. That's usually possible with a first shoplifting offense.

I strive for 5-star service. If I have addressed all of your concerns, please take the time to rate my service to you by selecting 5 stars on the rating scale, as a rating of okay or better is the only way that JustAnswer will give us Experts credit for our work. You would still be able to post further follow-ups on this question thread about this for no additional cost, even after I've been rated.

Good luck on your case.

Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 31,869
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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