How can I make sure that a petty theft does not go on my record? 13 Answers as of August 04, 2011

I got caught for petty theft at Vons, and I do not have a criminal record. They just asked me to sign papers and I have a court date. I am not sure what to plead. I would like to do community service, or ask to take a theft class instead. What can I do so that this does not go on my record? Also, I was going to be out of town during that court date and so may I do some type of written declaration, and handle it through mail since this is my first AND LAST offense. Any advice would be so appreciated, thank you!

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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 Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
You need to retain an experience certified criminal law specialist to see if he or she can negotiate a disposition for a non-theft offense. If you plead guilty to a theft charge not only will it be on your record but even if it is later expunged it can be considered by licensing agencies (real estate, State Bar etc.).
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/26/2011
Law Office of Andrew Roberts
Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
Unfortunately you, or your attorney has to appear in court. You will have a record - but if you complete program, it will show dismissed.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/26/2011
Law Office of Jeff Yeh
Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
First of all, there is no such thing as a theft class. Secondly, you are being charged with a criminal offense, so there is no such thing as arraignment by written declaration. You will need to hire an attorney, who can appear on your behalf without you, and examine and investigate the case to see if a dismissal/reduction is possible. Remember that whether you pay VONS back has no bearing on the outcome of your criminal case, so hold off and talk to an attorney before you take any action that might harm your case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/26/2011
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
First off, you cannot make an appearance at your court date through a letter. If you do not show up to court, a warrant for failure to appear will be issued and your matter will only be worse. If you are going to be out of town, I suggest you hire an attorney to handle the matter for you. A theft class and/ or community service may be an option for you but the only way to keep a conviction off your record is if the case is dismissed or you successfully complete a diversion program. Even though a conviction will not be on your record, the charge will remain.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/26/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/26/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You can see if you can get diversion on a plea barging. You can go to trial and with a good attorney maybe get a not guilty or hung jury, you can expunge the case after probation, and you can try to get it reduced to commercial trespass. This depends on the facts. Contact an attorney. Go to the court early and request a different date for you arraignment.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    Some jurisdictions have petty theft diversion programs and some do not. What did you sign? I hope it was not a confession. Misdemeanor cases do not require you to attend the first appearance as long as you have a private attorney retained who can make the appearance for you. As to getting it off your record, assuming to are convicted of this, you need to finish your probation period and then you can file a 1203.4 form (if you got thru probation with no problems). At that point the conviction will be stricken for most purposes. It will be on record somewhere as a prior in case it happens again.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    In regards to attending the Court date, since this is a misdemeanor petty theft charge, generally speaking either you or your privately retained attorney needs to be at Court on the arraignment date. If you do not retain private counsel, you will need to be at court personally. There may be possible resolutions to the case such as informal diversion to get the charge dismissed, or potentially reduced to an infraction. I have been successful in getting those resolutions in the past in first offense petty theft cases.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    How can I make sure that a petty theft does not go on my record? By not being convicted. Of course you can fight the charges. 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. No amount of free 'tips and hints' from here or anywhere else are going to effectively help you in your defense. There is no magic wand to wave and make it all disappear. Not exactly a do it yourself project in court for someone who does not know how to effectively represent himself against a professional prosecutor intending to convict and jail you. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who 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: 7/25/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    First - you (or an attorney on your behalf) must appear in court on your court date or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. You cannot submit paperwork or a declaration to avoid going to court in this situation. Since you're going to be out of town and for the best possibility of a good outcome, you really should focus on finding a criminal defense attorney who routinely practices in the court where your case will be heard. They will be able to advise you about any current diversion or other programs to try and avoid a conviction in your case. Don't wait until the last minute, since there may be things your attorney suggests to get you in the best position for a good outcome.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    Depending on the amount of items taken (the value), it may be possible to have the charges reduced to an infraction. You will need to appear in person though. You cannot handle a misdemeanor charge by mail or by phone. However, if you hire an attorney they can appear on your behalf without you having to be there, enter a not guilty plea for you, and set a new date to return and try to negotiate a disposition with the District Attorney. If you're going to be out of town and you can't/won't change your plans to be at court, then you need to hire an attorney. If you simply fail to appear, you will have an arrest warrant placed on you by the judge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
    Only way is if you get the case dismissed. You would still have to file a factual innocence as well!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
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