Petty Theft Attorney in San Jose – What is PC488? The California Penal Code For Petty Theft?

California Penal Code 488 is the CA code section that defines the crime called Petty Theft. In California, there are primarily two kinds of theft crimes – petty theft and grand theft. People are generally charged with petty theft when the value of the item they are accused of taking is worth less than $400.
The laws that describe the crime are found in a volume called the California Penal Code are set out in several chapters called sections.
Definitions of Petty Theft
Section 486 explains that there are two degrees of theft as follows:
“Theft is divided into two degrees, the first of which is termed grand theft; the second, petty theft.”
The California Penal Code section 487, PC487, sets out the value for determining Grand Theft as follows:
“…When the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a value exceeding four hundred dollars ($400)…”
Petty Theft Punishment
California Penal Code section 490 goes on to describe the punishment for Petty Theft stating that “petty theft is punishable by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or both.”
Clients often ask our petty theft attorneys whether the personal property they’re accused of taking must be removed from the store in order for the crime to have been committed. In fact, removal is not necessary. In order for shoplifting to have taken place, the person accused must have concealed, converted or carried away the property. As long as the accused person had specific intent to deprive the owner of the item, it is not necessary for the accused to actually keep the property.
Every case is different and there are many factors in petty theft cases that affect the outcome of the case. In addition to the value of the item taken, the district attorney will look at the individuals existing record and other factors. Even through the California Code states these punishments, there is no fixed outcome for every case. When a case is properly defended by a good petty theft attorney, the defendant may be able to avoid fines and jail.
In addition, the district attorney has discretion when deciding how to prosecute a petty theft case. In order of severity, these cases may be prosecuted as a felony, a misdemeanor or an infraction. A felony is a much more serious crime and carries more drastic consequences for the person convicted. Either way, misdemeanors and felonies result in permanent criminal records. These kind of records do not fall off like bad credit reports or speeding tickets after a number of years. Rather they will continue to cause problems for people for many years when, for instance, they fill out a job application or apartment application and are asked whether they were convicted of a crime.
The reality is that many jurisdictions in California are getting tough on crime. Statistics show that US retailers lose over $20 billion of property every year. Therefore district attorneys are under a great deal of pressure to prosecute these cases to the full extent of the law.
Many people wonder whether it is necessary to hire an attorney when they are accused of a crime. What they must understand is that the US legal system is adversarial in nature, meaning that the prosecutor’s job is to seek the most stringent punishment, while the defense attorney’s role is to promote the most lenient outcome. When a defendant does not have a defense attorney, he or she is at the mercy of the court without a skilled advocate that is promoting his or her interests. In petty theft cases, a skilled petty theft attorney has many options at his disposal.
A San Jose petty theft firm called Summit Defense regularly works with clients who are accused of petty theft. No matter what the circumstances, they understand that their role as the criminal defense attorney is to push for the best possible outcome for their clients. The ultimate goal is to get the charges dropped by the district attorney. When that is not possible, the fallback is to work out a solution that at least avoids jail and a criminal record.
Regular solutions involve negotiating an agreement with the store called a civil compromise that allows a defendant to keep his record clean. In certain cases, Summit Defense may push for an infraction rather than a misdemeanor since an infraction is a lesser category of offense similar to a speeding ticket. Summit Defense is one of the San Jose’s largest and most experienced group of Criminal Defense Attorneys that only represents individuals charged with or accused of a crime. With over 15 years of experience, the Summit Defense legal team includes two former prosecutors, a former Police Officer and attorneys who graduated from the country’s top law schools including Harvard.
Summit Defense also has an in-house Immigration Attorney who works with non-citizen Summit Defense clients. Every day Summit Defense attorneys are in Bay Area courtrooms fighting for clients’ freedom, insisting on the presumption of innocence, and taking police and prosecutors to task when they violate their clients’ rights. Summit Defense offers a free initial consultation and their staff is available 24/7 to answer legal questions. Summit Defense is proud to be an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Their accomplishments in the courtroom are well known in the legal community and include a recent a double murder trial win.