When a person has been charged with Petty Theft under the California Penal Code §484, it is highly recommended that they seek the advice and guidance of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney. The reason it is highly advisable is that in the beginning stages there is a good probability that the case may be dismissed or never filed to begin with.
An attorney knows the legal system and the courts. Through their experience and connections they are able to speak to the Prosecutor before the case gets filed. The Attorney will also speak to any injured parties to see if a Civil Compromise may be reached.
A civil compromise is an agreement between the person who has caused the injury or damage and the person who suffered the damage. The purpose of the agreement is to make restitution. If a civil compromise is reached, then an attorney can present that to the Prosecutor, arguing that all damage have been rectified, and the charges should be dropped.
An example is useful in understanding the concept. Dina takes a pair of earrings from a department store and is caught by the security guard. The earrings are worth about $50. Dina is arrested and charged with Petty theft. She has no prior record and has never been arrested before.
Dina seeks the advice of a legal professional. The attorney is able to call the department store and prepare a civil compromise promising that Dina will pay the story $50. The attorney then takes the civil compromise, and presents positive aspects of Dina’s life and demonstrates that the store has no longer suffered any harm since they have been reimbursed the cost of the earrings and there is nothing further preventing the Prosecutor from dismissing the case.
Oftentimes there is a delay between a person being arrested and a case being filed against them. The prosecutors have a year to file a case against a person after the date of arrest. If a civil compromise is prepared prior to the case ever having been filed, it is great incentive and motivation for the District Attorney to refrain from filing anything at all.
Petty theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude and can affect applications to schools, financial institutions and employment. If you have been charged with petty theft, or have been arrested, it is not something that should be taken lightly due to the potentially minimal value of the item stolen. It is very advisable to speak to a Criminal Attorney with many years of experience. It can make the entire difference between a criminal record or simply an arrest record.