Petty theft is a Misdameanor in the state of California. However there could be very harsh penalties associated with a Petty Theft conviction. First the Petty theft conviction is priorable. Meaning the penalties get more severe if you are convicted more than once.
And Petty theft convictions could have adverse consequences for your Immigration status as Petty Theft is a crime of Moral Turpitude. Many times Petty Theft will fall under a petty crimes exception for Immigration purposes.
You should hire an Attorney for several reasons for a Petty Theft arrest.
1. If you hire a private attorney you can in fresno county have what is referred to as a 977 appearance meaning you will not have to show up in court possibly saving you many hours of lost time in court.
2. We can negotiate with the Prosecutor for a diversion before entering a pleas. This will save you from having this theft related offense on your record.
3. If the case goes to trial, or you think it will go to trial you should pay the civil assessment that the store will send you. I have seen several cases where the store refused to come to court after a case was set for trial because they have already been paid.
There are several other defenses to Petty Theft that are out there. You should defenitely contact an Attorney regarding your legal rights and what you can do to help yourself.
The max you could recieve as a result of a Petty Theft is 180 days in jail. However, it is usually much less than that. Even if you are not given a pre-plea diversion usually your case will be referred for diversion and if you complete the petty theft awareness class you case will be dismissed. However, if this occurs after a plea or post plea than the offense will show on your record.
However, after you have successfully completed probation, you could be eligible for an expungement of your record. The expungement is only needed if you pleaded guilty and then completed the diversion program. If you did diversion first, before plea or pre-plea, you do not need to go through the process of an expungement.
If you have any questions do not hesitate to call.