Can I reduce a misdemeanor shoplifting charge to an infraction? 17 Answers as of August 04, 2011

I was charged with petty theft from H&M. The total was $30. I was given a court date of Sept. 29th at Superior Court. First and last offense; clean record (even from DMV). I'm hoping to reduce this from a misdemeanor to an infraction, would this be possible? Do I need a lawyer?

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Lowenstein Law Office
Lowenstein Law Office | Anthony Lowenstein
It depends on several factors.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/4/2011
Law Offices of Scott Tibbedeaux
Law Offices of Scott Tibbedeaux | Scott Tibbedeaux
Yes, it is possible at the discretion of the prosecutor since the value of the property was under $50. It may be in your best interest to seek legal advice to see what all your options are and any available defenses.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/3/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
This is a crime of moral turpitude and you do not want it to end up on your criminal record. You should consult with a criminal defense law firm immediately for proper guidance. In some cases it is possible to have the charge dismissed depending upon the court your case is pending in and certain programs they may have.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/1/2011
A.L.A. Law Group, LLP
A.L.A. Law Group, LLP | Lauren M. Mayfield
You should speak with a criminal defense attorney right away because your attorney may be able to negotiate an offer that will result in a dismissal and keep your record as clear as possible. You will still have an citation on your record still but if the court dismisses it the case will look as though the court took no action. You should not accept an offer before speaking with an attorney to make sure you understand the consequences a theft charge will have on your record. Even if you get convicted you can still expunge after you have finished probation and fines.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/1/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
If you want to plead and you are wanting to get it reduced then yes get an attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    You will probably need a lawyer to make the motion. There is a division in the law as to whether this can be done over the objection of the DA and whether it is even possible of the amount stolen was over $50 but it might be worth the money to try.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    It is possible. More likely with good attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    CAN the case end up being reduced or dropped? Sure. Is that likely, just because you want it? No. Youll get your answer as a result of your attorneys plea bargaining discussions with the prosecutor. This is a minor crime, with possibility of reduction or other outcome you could live with. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence, facts and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. You can hire an attorney, unless you know how to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor intending to convict. He will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction, or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    It is possible under Penal Code 490.1. However, I recommend hiring a lawyer who will have a much better chance of being able to discuss the matter with the District Attorney's Office and negotiating this matter to an infraction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You absolutely need a lawyer if you are thinking about even the possibility of reducing a petty theft to an infraction. You'll need an attorney who will work hard and fight for you to negotiate some kind of deal with the prosecutor. It is worth it because petty theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and if it goes on your record, forget about getting hired anywhere decent.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    It is possible to get this reduced but it depends on the district attorney. It is very common in the bay area to get misdemeanor theft cases down to an infraction with community service and a theft class as well as paying restitution.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    It would be best you have a lawyer although there is no guarantee. The lawyer might be able to convince the DA to lower this to a trespass infraction or maybe dismiss the charges after some diversion classes. It all depends on the DA. Good luck to you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    It is certainly possible and it would also seem appropriate. In general, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to maximize your chances of obtaining the best result. Considering a petty theft conviction can be devastating to both current and future employment opportunities, I would highly suggest hiring an attorney if possible. I hope this answer was helpful. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Rodney Nosratabadi
    Law Office of Rodney Nosratabadi | Rodney Nosratabadi
    You absolutely do need a lawyer. Only a lawyer can negotiate a disposition like that.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Thomas J. Ogas
    Law Office of Thomas J. Ogas | Thomas Ogas
    It is possible. Petty theft of less than $50 can be charged as an infraction. Whether you need an attorney or not depends on the court your going to, and if they'll negotiate with someone who is unrepresented.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    It is entirely possible for the District Attorney to reduce this charge to an infraction, particularly since it is your first offense and you have no record. There might be a modest fine. You might not need a lawyer and may be able to talk directly to the D.A. Also, the Public Defender might be able to handle it for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Anything is possible. Yes, there is a provision in the law that can make theft of under $50 an infraction, but in my experience, the prosecution always charges the misdemeanor. Will they be willing to reduce yours? Your lack of record helps, but doesn't guarantee anything. Do you need a lawyer? For the best possible outcome, you're always better off with a lawyer. Why? Because we know the system, whether you have any legal defenses, factual defenses or other bargaining tools we can use on your behalf. There may be a way to make it even better for you than an infraction theft conviction. At the very least, sit down face to face with a criminal defense attorney and discuss your options. Look for a lawyer that handles criminal cases exclusively, not a general attorney that does divorce cases one day, bankruptcy the next and dabbles in criminal law. You really need somebody that routinely practices in the court where your case will be heard. They'll know the judges, DAs and what options you may have based on their experience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
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