What is Petty Theft?
Whether you or a loved one was charged with theft of a bicycle, an item in a store (shoplifting), or stealing a small item from someone's home while visiting, you are likely to be charged with petty theft. Getting help from an experienced attorney can help you weigh your options and make wise decisions regarding your defense, especially if this is your first offense. While petty theft is the lowest form of theft charge, you still could be facing jail time and pricey fines if you are found guilty. What's more, you could face serious damage to your reputation, your employability, and fines that weigh on your pocketbook.
When the value of the item stolen is under $750, the crime is typically petty theft, or rather Theft in the Third Degree (a gross misdemeanor). To be charged with petty theft, you might have taken something from someone's yard, or perhaps you obtained items from someone through deceiving them in some way or accepting delivery of someone else's items as your own. Another way to be charged of committing petty theft can be if you accept services from someone and do not pay for them such as having your yard mowed, or your computer worked on. Despite the value of these crimes being very low, often courts aim to teach the thief a lesson with the hope of deterring future incidences.
Your Defense Options for Petty Theft
Your defense options for petty theft depend on the specific facts and circumstances. For some of you, you may have been detained by the store owner, and, thus, may never have left the store before the police arrived. The defense of lack of intent could apply in your case. For other cases, where a video was not involved proving the act, a misunderstanding could have been involved. Misunderstanding is not a defense, but it provides context that can lead to a defense or could be used to challenge the elements of the crime necessary to prove a crime was committed. You will want to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine what your defense may be.
Penalties Associated with Theft in the Third Degree
If you did not retain an attorney who was capable to help you successfully, then you could be facing serious consequences. The criminal sentence could entail incarceration up to one year in county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000. In addition, you could face civil penalties if the crime involved shoplifting. You, or if you are a minor -- your parent(s) or guardian(s), are civilly liable to the store or business owner. You could have to expend the following:
- the retail value of the stolen item (service or product), but not to exceed $2,850 (or $1,425 if it is the parent or guardian legally responsible for it);
- an additional penalty of at least $100 but not more than $650; and
- the business owner's attorney's fees and court costs, so long as they are "reasonable".
When someone you love is charged with petty theft, it is helpful to engage an attorney experienced in criminal defense to help give the best options out there. Steve Karimi, a former prosecutor, is knowledgeable and experienced in working both sides of the courtroom. Steve can help you prepare your criminal defense for petty theft charges. Call the Karimi Law Office today and schedule your initial consultation.