Petty theft and shoplifting charges are one of the main areas addressed by Prop 47, now known as California Penal Code 1170.18. However, it will not change much for the vast majority of people arrested for a first offense petty theft. Prop 47 prevents the filing of felonies for individuals with theft priors. Before this law change, individuals with certain theft related priors or 3 or more petty thefts, could have been and usually were charged with a felony "petty with a prior" which was punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
As a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment for petty theft and shoplifting is now by up to 6 months in county jail and $1000 fine. It therefore has no real impact on most people charged with shoplifting or petty theft which includes thefts up to $950 or less in value. Courts can still increse the penalties based on those parameters for those with priors, but cannot exceed the maximum misdemeanor sentence. Most petty theft cases while you could face jail time, usually include 3 years informal probation, stay away conditions from the "victim" store, fines and a book and release in jail and public work. Often times these charges may be able to be plea bargained to lesser or different offenses, and lesser penalties depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and the defendants background, occupation, career goals and other considerations. That is the value of an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows what can be done and how to do it. Any theft case is serious and can result in employment and educational issues, immigration and government licensing issues (e.g. real estate sales, teaching, trade and other professional licensing)
Courts throughout the County and state often differ in the way they treat these offenses. It is the District Attorney (DA) in each Court which handles the settlements of these cases if they are resolved without trial. Local experienced Criminal Defense lawyers are very familiar with the Courts, D.A.s, and what needs to be done to achieve the best result in your case. Call Christoph Law Offices at 760-941-5720 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. We have been across from Vista Courts for over 32 years, handle only Criminal and DUI cases in all of San Diego County.