How should I address a misdemeanor shoplifting charge in California? 23 Answers as of January 28, 2011

I was on a work trip in California and got caught for shoplifting. I am now charged with misdemeanor and was bailed out by a bond company. I am currently back in Singapore. I have to return in March to California for the hearing. What will happen? I cannot afford any jail time or community time as I do not live there. I have to make special arrangements to fly down. Please help me. I have no prior records. This is my first time. Thank you.

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The Law Office of Stacey Wolcott
The Law Office of Stacey Wolcott | Stacey Wolcott
It may be wise of you to hire an attorney. Since this is a misdemeanor charge an attorney can appear for you without the need for you to have to go to court. A misdemeanor in CA usually carries with it a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail, but if you have no record it may be possible to negotiate your charge down. You can call my office and schedule a free consultation where we can discuss all your options.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/28/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
There are options for you. Contact an attorney now.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/28/2011
Wise Law Group
Wise Law Group | Michael J. Wise, Esq
An attorney would be able to appear for you so that you don't need to come back to California.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/27/2011
Law Offices of Philip P. De Luca
Law Offices of Philip P. De Luca | Philip De Luca
Due to the fact that your shoplifting charge is a misdemeanor, you can hire a licensed attorney to appear for you, without your personal appearance required, pursuant to Penal Code 977. If you provide authority to the attorney to resolve the case in a plea bargain, you may never have to appear. Conviction for shoplifting is not likely to lead to jail time unless there are some other aggravating circumstances. You will likely receive credit for whatever time you may have served in jail already and be ordered to pay a fine. Good luck in terms of finding an attorney to represent you. You are welcome to contact me if interested in retaining my services. Thank you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/27/2011
Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
In California an attorney can appear on a misdemeanor charge without the client. Call me and if you are in the Bay Area I can help you and if not I can recommend a good lawyer in the town where you were arrested.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/26/2011
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law | Alanna D. Coopersmith
    An attorney can represent you without you appearing in court yourself. It's better to hire a criminal defense attorney, than to not show up and have a bench warrant issued for your arrest.

    Feel free to contact me if you want to talk about your situation and look into the possibility of representation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    The same as any other crime. When arrested and charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can you be convicted, and what can you do? Defend the charges. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain for you, or take it to trial. If serious about doing so, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help you use whatever defenses you may have. Making it a little easier for you, since this was a misdemeanor, your attorney can appear in court without you being present, and any plea bargain deal could be handled by notarized paperwork. Any fines could be paid by mail. Unless you have a rap sheet and priors, it is likely, though not guaranteed, that your attorney can get a deal without any jail time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Offices of Thomas D. Nares
    Law Offices of Thomas D. Nares | Thomas D. Nares
    You do not have to personally appear if you have a lawyer. However, you would have to plead guilty. The attorney can handle everything by mail or email. You can pay your fine by mail. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Since it is a misdemeanor, an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being present. Assuming you have no prior(s), a good defense attorney has a decent chance of obtaining a no-jail disposition for you, and you may not even need to be in court to enter the plea.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Since you are charged with a misdemeanor you have the right to waive your appearance and have your attorney appear for you. With luck your attorney might be able to work out a resolution which would not require your return to CA. It might even to work out a plea for no jail and just a fine paid. Talk to a qualified attorney. The cost to retain an attorney for a set fee on a misdemeanor criminal charge could very well be less than one flight back to CA.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    You can retain a private attorney to make the appearances on your behalf. What Court in California is your next hearing in? Also, what is the value of the alleged item(s) in question? Call me at (818) 336-1384 if you would like to discuss further. I could better advise once I know some more particulars about the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    First of all, I have to gently chide you for paying a bail bondsman to bond out on a PC 491.5 or PC 488. You must be kidding. What a waste of money, when you could have hired a competent and experienced attorney in your jurisdiction for between $1,000 and $1,500 (in today's market, particularly), who would probably be, if that attorney were truly experienced, knowledgeable and had a certain brio, able to achieve a dramatic reduction of the charge. You did not provide any particulars of the incident itself, which would be relevant. So, did you request appointment of the Public Defender? An attorney can almost always appear for you after submitting a Penal Code section 977 'Waiver of Defendant's Personal Presence'. The Pubic Defender will probably not do so, and will certainly not be able to do so at the Arraignment (that is your court appearance at which you must appear in March, right? Since you like to throw money around (on the bail bondsman... I'm having some fun with you... Maybe you had no choice, because you had to return to Singapore, which sounds like a lot of fun), you might consider hiring an Attorney to see if this can be resolved in a way that does not hurt you professionally. Apparently, you had no trouble traveling out of the country with the case pending. You would be surprised, however, at what a conviction for something even as trivial as a shoplifting conviction might do to you, professionally. You should call the office.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Since this is a misdemeanor an attorney can appear for you in all proceedings. You do not have to return to the US, although I would need more information with respect to your company that bailed you out. This being a petty theft, there are many alternative sentencing remedies that are available that would keep you out of incarceration- such as diversion, etc. Please contact me if can be of assistance. I practice in Los Angeles and have associates throughout California.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf
    Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf | Lawrence Wolf
    Don't worry You don't need to appear. We will work on trying to stop the case from ever going to court. And even if it does we can appear for you. What was the value of the items taken? Let us know ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Steven Mandell
    Steven Mandell | Law Offices of Steven Mandell
    Actually, it may be possible for an attorney to make all the appearances for you, without you needing to be present in court, because you live in another country. Depending on many factors, that may be the best thing for you. It's complicated, and it's best to consult with an attorney well in advance of your court appearance in March. If your case is in or near Los Angeles, I'd be happy to consult with you about it. Feel free to contact me by phone or email. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Offices of Ryan P. Murphy
    Law Offices of Ryan P. Murphy | Ryan P. Murphy
    My office handles cases when our clients are either:1. Stationed outside of the United States (Military or Work), and/or2. Live outside the United States.

    Usually, we can appear for you and handle the matter without you appearing in front of the judge. The major costs involved are:1. How far we have to travel, and2. What your concerns and goals are.

    Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact my office at your earliest convenience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Office of Miranda McCroskey
    Law Office of Miranda McCroskey | Miranda Dempsey McCroskey
    You do not have to come to the hearing in person if you hire an attorney. You can expect to get a deferred entry of judgment on the case. That means you will make a conditional plea of guilty, pay a fine, attend a class (or some kind of equivalent in Singapore), then withdraw your plea and have your case dismissed. You would need a knowledgeable attorney to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Law Office of Gregory W. Fox
    Law Office of Gregory W. Fox | Gregory W. Fox
    You should consider contacting a criminal defense attorney. Since it is a misdemeanor charge, you can have an attorney appear on your behalf and, in most instances, will not be required to travel to California.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Hire an attorney. The attorney can make all the appearances for you so you do not need to return to California. Depending upon the case it may be possible for the attorney to get a dismissal or a deferred entry of judgment.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Christine D. Thielo
    Christine D. Thielo | Law Office of Christine D. Thielo
    Please contact the office to be able to further assist you in your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    You may not even have to fly out here. If this is charged as a misdemeanor, an attorney can appear for you pursuant to penal code section 977. This will only work with a private retained attorney and usually not with the public defender. For a first offense shoplifting case, you have a good argument to get no jail time but you will most likely have to do a theft class in the states. Give my office a call if you have any questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/26/2011
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