If you are facing theft charges, a criminal law attorney can help you fight them. “Theft” charges are very common in Orange County, California, with the majority being charged as shoplifting (petty theft). However, there are several other degrees of theft that can potentially result in a substantial prison sentence. It’s important to understand the degrees of theft in order to determine the potential sentence a person is facing and a criminal law attorney can explain this to you during a consultation. Many times the District Attorney’s office charges a theft offense as a misdemeanor when the amount involved actually rises to the level of felony conduct. When this type of a situation arises, a person may want to resolve their case quickly in order to avoid a felony theft conviction. There are also situations where an inexperienced prosecutor does not thoroughly review a defendant’s criminal history which might reveal prior theft convictions, warranting a felony filing for conduct that is normally a misdemeanor. (Penal Code section 666). An experienced criminal law attorney would be able to determine if this is an issue during the initial client interview.
Criminal Law Attorney Helps Fight Petty Theft Charges
Petty theft under $50 – Infraction
Pursuant to Penal Code section 490.1, a person can plead guilty to an infraction for petty theft IF the amount of the items taken is under $50. However, this infraction option is only available at the discretion of the prosecutor, and the defendant must not have any theft related convictions. This is obviously the best solution since the person avoids a misdemeanor conviction, probation terms, and would only be required to pay a fine.
Petty theft under $950 – Misdemeanor
When the amount of the property taken does not exceed $950 (except for certain types of crops and aqua cultural products), the offense can be charged as a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months. [Penal Code section 484(a)]. In addition to any potential custody time, the defendant is generally placed on 3 years of informal probation, and subject to search and seizure by any law enforcement officer.
Criminal Law Attorney Helps Fight Felony Theft Charges
Grand theft exceeding $950 – Felony
Penal Code section 487(a) provides for a felony filing if the amount of “money, labor, or real or personal property taken” exceeds $950. With this charge, the defendant is facing a maximum prison sentence of 3 years. If the person is granted probation, they may be ordered to serve up to 1 year in county jail and be placed on supervised formal probation, with other terms and conditions.
Felony Grand Theft with Enhancements
If the value of the property taken exceeds $100,000, the defendant may be facing an enhancement under Penal Code section 1203.045, which is generally referred to as a “no probation” allegation. This means, the defendant would be facing a mandatory prison term, unless the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the allegation and allow the defendant the opportunity to successfully complete probation. This is a serious level of theft and it is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal law attorney to help you.
In addition to the “no probation” allegation, there are several enhancements that can be alleged by the prosecutor when the loss exceeds $100,000. Penal Code section 186.11(a) is generally referred to as the “Aggravated White Collar Crime Enhancement” and is usually alleged when the loss is substantial. If the loss is between $100,000 and $200,000, an additional 1 year of prison time can be imposed. If the loss is between $200,000 and $500,000, 2 years of additional prison time can be imposed. If the alleged loss exceeds $500,000, up to 5 years of additional prison time can be imposed.
Deferred Entry of Judgment
In some instances when the theft conduct rises to the level of a misdemeanor only and the person has no criminal history, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office may offer a “Deferred Entry of Judgment” agreement. This agreement allows the defendant to get the case dismissed upon completing a theft class and providing a DNA sample. The prosecutor usually reviews the file at the arraignment hearing to see if the defendant is eligible for the agreement. If the defendant is eligible, the agreement is signed, the defendant enters a plea, but the case is set out 3 months to allow the defendant sufficient time to do the class and provide the sample. At the 3 month court date, the defendant provides proof of completing the class, proof of providing the DNA sample, and the plea of guilty is withdrawn and the case is dismissed.
If you or someone you know is charged with a theft offense, consult with an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. For more information on theft offenses, contact criminal law attorney Karren Kenney at the Kenney Legal Defense Corporation, call (855) 505-5588 about your case, don’t mess with your freedom!