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Petty Theft Archives

A Petty theft in Oceanside is prosecuted in Vista Courts

A petty theft in Oceanside is prosecuted in Vista Courts, as are petty theft cases in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, San Marcos and Fallbrook.  Most petty thefts occur in retail outlets and are also called shoplifting.  Thefts of merchandise $950 or less in value are misdemeanors and carry fines and possible custody. Usually the individual is stopped by store security, interviewed by store security and held for the local police or sheriff to take over the investigation.

What happens with a petty theft in Vista Courts?

Petty theft cases are misdemeanors which are defined as thefts of $950 or less in value.  These charges can carry possible serious consequences not only in penalties but also impact employment, careers, professional licensing, security clearances, education, immigration and other important aspects of an individual's life.  Most petty thefts are shoplifting cases and involve the stealing of merchandise from a store.  The penalties can include possible custody or alternatives up to 6 months and fines up to $1000 depending on the facts of the case, individuals background, prior record, sophistication and other considerations.   

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.

Are "Petty Theft" or "Shoplifting" charges affected by Prop 47?

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.

Can a Petty Theft become a Robbery?

Yes, a petty theft can become a robbery.  California Penal Code (PC) 484 Petty theft is stealing proerty $950 or less in value, PC 211 robbery is the taking of property against someones will using force or fear.  The Courts have ruled that someone who steals property and then uses physical force, like pushing or fighting with a security guard while trying to get away is sufficient to escalate the misdemeanor petty theft which carries up to 6 months jail to a felony robbery which carries up to 5 years state prison and is a strike under the three strikes law.

What happens with a petty theft cite at Carlsbad Walmart?

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.

Petty Theft Cases in Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido

Petty theft is a misdemeanor in California and involves the theft of money, labor or property $950 or less in value.  It carries a potential sentence of up to 6 months jail and $1000 fine.  However, the prosecutor, the District Attorney (D.A.)for North County cases from Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Escondido and Encinitas or the City Attorney for San Diego Cases may treat them differently. They have the discretion to settle a petty theft case for an infraction especially if the loss is less than $50.  Infractions are minor offenses which carry a fine only like a minor traffic violation and are not misdemeanors.  Infractions are much better for your record.  Depending on the factors involved, some jurisdictions may reduce a petty theft to an infraction even involving even higher amounts and some may also have a diversion program where you may attend a theft class, stay crime and arrest fee for a period of time and get the charge dismissed.   

What are Oceanside Petty Theft Aggravating Factors?

Aggravgating factors in petty theft cases in Oceaside are the same as in Vista, Carlsbad, Escondido or anywhere in California.  The greater the value of the theft, the more serious it is.  The way the theft was carried out is an important consideration.  Was it just a spur of the moment petty theft and stuffed in a pocket or was an empty  "booster bag"  brought into the store, were changing rooms used?  If it can be showed that it was planned before entering the store, a burglary could be filed as a felony or misdemeanor, increasing the exposure.  Involving minors in the theft will increase penalties.  Certainly prior record, especially prior theft related offenses, are a big aggravator in negotiating these cases.

Oceanside Petty Theft has Serious Consequences in Vista Courts

     Most petty theft cases in Oceanside and all of North County, involve the theft of merchandise from a store but may involve any theft where the value of the stolen property is $ 950 or less.  Petty theft from a store is commonly referred to as "shoplifting". If the theft does not exceed $ 50 in value, the District Attorney has discretion to file the charge as an infraction with a fine only penalty.   A 4th offense may be charged as a felony, it used to be a 2nd offense could have been charged as a felony only a couple of years ago. While the penalty for a petty theft carries potential jail time, probation, fines, search waiver classes and restitution, many times we can resolve these cases with lesser charges or penalties which also minimizes the future impact of any conviction.

What is the difference between Petty Theft and Grand Theft?

A petty theft is the taking of property valued at $ 950 or less and is a misdemeanor punishable by up six months jail and $ 1000 fine, taking less than $50 in value may be petty theft as an infraction.  A grand theft is the taking property of valued at more than $ 950 and is a felony punishable by up to 1 year in County Jail and probation or up to a 3 year prison commit.  There are also other forms of grand theft which vary depending on the type of property taken, firearms, livestock, agricultural produce etc.