1) If the Police Came To The Store, You Are Going To Be Charged With Shoplifting or Another Theft Related Crime. The store’s “asset protection manager” may have told you to just tell the truth and nothing bad would happen to you. That’s not true and they’re allowed to lie to you. If the police came to the store and either took you into custory or made you sign a promise to appear in court (looks like a traffic ticket”), you are going to be charged with either petty theft (if the amount was under $950) or grand theft (if over $950).
2) Civil Compromises are Not Easy To Come By. Under California law, if you are charged with a misdemeanor petty theft case, a civil compromise is available under Penal Code 1377. This means that the defendant pays a negotiated amount to the retailer and the case gets dismissed. But getting a retailer to agree to that is not easy. Big chain stores, owned by large corporations, rarely agree to a civil compromise. They want shoplifter prosecuted. They’re not going to agree to let people off the hook in exchange for a few hundred bucks. If any criminal defense attorney lawyer tells you that they can get you a civil compromise, ask them to put that promise in writing
3) In California, Do Not Automatically Pay The Scary-Looking Civil Demand Letter From An Out-of-State Law Firm. You’re most likely going to get a letter from an out of state law firm, asking you to pay the retailer for damages. You may think that by paying it you’ll be helping your position in the criminal case. This is not true. You may not need to pay it at all, do NOT pay it until you speak with a qualified theft defense attorney.
4) Do you have a problem with stealing? Do you steal items even though you can afford them? Are you afraid that you suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder that makes it difficult for you to stop stealing? This is not an easy thing to come to terms with. But let’s face it, you’ve now been arrested for stealing. In California, shoplifting (known under the law as petty theft) is a crime in which the punishment gets worse every time you’re convicted. Eventually, you could be charged with a felony. Get this under control now. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who knows about theft defense can help get you counseling which will not only help your case, but it will help your life.
5) There is Hope! Do NOT Just Go To Court and Plead Guilty. You may have already signed a piece of paper admitting you shoplifted. The loss prevention officer or the police may have told you that they have you on video. You may just want to get this over with and put it behind you, but whatever you do, do NOT just go into court and plead guilty without speaking with a qualified Los Angeles theft defense attorney. Every courthouse handles petty theft (or shoplifting) and grand theft cases differently: Van Nuys Courthouse treats it differently than Airport Courthouse which treats it differently than East Los Angeles Courthouse. In some courts these cases are handled by the District Attorney, in some courts the Los Angeles City Attorney handles the cases. The location and the prosecuting agency are key factors in how these cases are viewed.. A qualified criminal defense lawyer makes all the difference.