What will happen on a first offense shoplifting of $40 of merchandise? 13 Answers as of June 23, 2011

I'm 19 and was caught shoplifting $40 worth of merchandise. It's my first offense and I have never been in trouble with the law, what could be my punishment and how much are court fees?

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Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
Under your circumstances, you might be able to take an anti-theft class and have the whole thing reduced to an infraction (equivalent to a ticket.) Otherwise, the fine is usually around a couple of hundred dollars.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/23/2011
Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
Up to one year in jail... but with no priors, you may be able to get away easy. With a good attorney you MAY be able to get it dropped to a trespassing ticket. Are you moving along in school, ect. Those are all things that can help your case!
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/22/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Hong Lyu
What you're facing is a petty theft charge (California Penal Code Section 488) because the property allegedly taken is valued at under $950. In a worst-case scenario, a conviction can result in 3 years of summary probation, fines of up to $1,000, and up to 6 months in county jail. Since you are not a "career criminal" with any priors, there is a very good possibility that you may qualify for a deferred entry of judgment, or DEJ. This means that the judge will "defer judgment" against you and eventually dismiss the case altogether if you present proof of successful completion of an anti-theft class and other diversion requirements (which may include repaying the victim the value of the item taken). The cost of the anti-theft class varies. By dismissing the case, the judge is essentially tossing the matter out - it will be as if it never happened. You will not be convicted, which means you will avoid incurring a criminal record. Although it is a misdemeanor crime, petty theft can also be reduced to an infraction. An infraction is like a traffic ticket. It does not result in a criminal record and does not include jail time. The only thing you may have to do is pay a small fine ($200). A misdemeanor petty theft can be reduced to an infraction depending on your criminal record and the value of the item allegedly taken.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/22/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
When charged with a misdemeanor, you potentially face up to 6-12 months in jail. No attorney can predict the outcome, nor even give an intelligent opinion, without reviewing and knowing all the charges, evidence, reports, testimony, priors history, etc. However, effective plea-bargaining, using whatever legal defenses, facts and sympathies there may be, could possibly keep you out of jail. 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 program, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/22/2011
Law Office of Joe Dane
Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
Rather than focusing on how much the fines are, focus on trying to avoid a conviction. Theft of under $50 can be an infraction, but you're more than likely going to be charged with the misdemeanor. It's time for an attorney. Depending on the facts, the court and your lawyer, you may be able to work something out to get the charges dismissed without a conviction on your record. Yes, lawyers cost money, but you do NOT want a theft on your record that will haunt you for years and years to come.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/22/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    It depends on what county you are being prosecuted in. In Orange County, if it is your first misdemeanor on a non-serious offense, you may be offered Deferred Entry of Judgement where you offer the prosecution a DNA sample and, if you do everything you are supposed to do, your case may be dismissed after 90 days. Contact my office at (949) 207-7200 if you have any further questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    You could go to jail and pay fines. Your lack of record could also benefit you. Hire an attorney. Do not just plead.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/22/2011
    The Chastaine Law Office
    The Chastaine Law Office | Michael Chastaine
    This may be dealt with deferred entry of judgement. This is normally the way first time shoplifting cases are addressed. You may want to consult with an attorney to help.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If this is your first offense the best that could happen is that you plea to a lesser offence trespass. If convicted of the shop lifting (commercial burglary ) you will get three years of summary probation and your court fines will be between $,000.00 and $2,000,00.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    It is likely that your case can be reduced to an infraction. I would not plead guilty until your attorney has explored that strong possibility. In that case you would at most be fined and would not have a criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    You could be put on probation, even given some jail time, or at least work release, but more likely will be on probation for two or three years (informal or 'summary' probation), be fined anywhere from a couple of hundred to several hundred dollars, depending upon the jurisdiction (County) and be ordered to pay restitution. You probably already received a letter from the retailer demanding approximately $250, with a threat to sue you if you did not pay. You should not have, by the way, though you would have to make restitution if you pled guilty. On the other hand, if you hired a good attorney, you might walk away with a better deal. You might avoid a misdemeanor conviction, or any jail time, or be able to receive a disposition(deal) for a reduced charge. I said "good attorney", as in an experienced, competent local Attorney who handles his or her cases personally. N'est-ce pas?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Up to 1 year in jail, and up to $500 in fines (multiplied by 4-5 times with penalty assessment). Petty theft is a crime of moral turpitude. At 19, to have that on your record is such a job/school killer. You better hire an attorney to explore alternatives to pleading guilty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    Theoretically, even a first offense of petty theft can carry jail time, but it is not likely. You have a good chance of getting probation if you choose not to contest your offense. I would recommend seeing if your particular county has any type of petty theft diversion program for low dollar amount offenders. I would recommend talking to an attorney as you don't want a criminal record if you can avoid it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
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