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What happens with a petty theft?

A petty theft is any theft of $950 or less, it is often a shoplifting where merchandise of $950 or lesss is taken from a retail outlet.  Once you are cited by the officer for the misdemeanor California Penal Code (PC) 484, you are given an arraignment date.  The police reports and security reports, usually including video if avaialble, is forwarded to the District Attorney's (DA) Office for review and actual filing of the criminal complaint.  The purpose of this first date is to inform you formally what your actual charges are.  Many times they are the same charge or charges you were cited with on scene, but the DA could add, change or reject the charges depending on the evidence.  Charges are ususally filed by the Court date but must be filed within 1 year on a misdemeanor.

If you have an attorney, your attorney can go to Court and make all appearances without you on a petty theft case.  The attorney will enter a "not guilty" plea regardless whether you are actually guilty in order to get all of the reports and review all the evidence with you to see if there are any defenses or mitigating factors that can help negotiate a dismissal, lesser charges or lesser penalties.  Each individual case varies from the facts, to the persons background, to the motivation, and to other relevant considerations that can assist in the negotiations or plea bargaining.  The case is continued several weeks for a plea bargaining date and that date may be continued again as the attorney tries to resolve the case on the best possible terms,

Ultimately, if it cannot be resolved, you have a right to a jury trial and have 12 people from the community to hear the evidence and decide unanimouly whether you are guilty or not.  Very few cases actually go to trial because if you have a defense or other mitigating factors, the case can be resolved much better without the risks of greater penalties.  Contact Christoph Law Offices for a free consultation at 760-941-5720, we can give you a realistic apparaisal of you case based on over 30 years of experience across from Vista Courts doing exclusively criminal defense.

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