If you are stopped for petty theft by store security at the Carlsbad Walmart, loss prevention or store security will escort you to the office. They will seize the property they believe is stolen and try to get you to admit or explain what you have done. They will then write a report, call Carlsbad Police and have you cited or arrested depending on the circumstances. If you have no record and the theft or shoplifting is clerly $950 or less, and there is no evidence you decided to do this before entering the store (burglary) you will be cited for a misdemeanor petty theft and given a Court date about 30 days later. If there is eveidence of a burglary, you will be arrested and taken to jail, bail set and Court within 3 Court days. A misdemeanor does carry the potential for custody and can really negatively affect your future.
The police then get a copy of any surveillance video and reports, ask you questions and cite and release you for the shoplifting or petty theft. The police turn over all of the reports and evidence to the District Attorney's (D.A.) Office for review and filing. It is the D.A. which makes the charging decision based on the evidence and formally types up the complaint for you first appearance. If there appears evidence of any other crimes, the D.A. can add charges or delete charges or even reject the case if there is insufficient evidence. With a misdemeanor, a retained attorney can make all the appearances. The first appearance is just to enter a plea of not guilty, get the reports and continue the case for a future pretrial or negotiation date. The attorney will then review everything with you, tell you what needs to be done, look for any defenses or mitigating factors and then get your authorization to resolve the case for the best possible settlement. This could be a dismissal, lesser charge or lesser penalties depending on the facts of your case.
It is important to conatct an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Nicholas or William Christoph at Christoph Law Offices @ 760-941-5720 as soon as possible for a free consultation and evaluation. There are things that should be done right away to help your case. We have handled several thousand theft cases over more than 40 years combined experience and over 30 years across from the Courts at Vista, California.