What can I do about a petty theft charge if I have no previous criminal record?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What can I do about a petty theft charge if I have no previous criminal record?

My sister and I were shopping. We ended up being stopped my loss prevention and taken to the office. we were charged with petty theft and I have court next month. I have no previous charges on my record and I’m working part-time. I just want to know how I should go about the situation walking inside. I really don’t know what I was thinking at the time.

Asked on August 3, 2015 under Criminal Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

In a situation in which the defendant is a first-time offender (i.e. has no prior criminal record), the courts can impose a special probation called "deferred adjudication" or "diversion". Pursuant to this alternative sentencing, the defendant goes to court and enters a guilty plea. The judge then issues probation to include community service, payment of the fine, restitution, etc. When the sentence is successfully completed, the plea is withdrawn and the case is dismissed. the defendant is left with a clean record since there was no conviction.

Note: In some states the defendant must apply to have their arrest record "expunged" or "sealed", even though the conviction itself does not appear on it.

At this point you may want to consult with a local criminal defense lawyer. Diversion is only available to first-time offenders, so ithey can get the charge dropped (e.g. on a technicality), then diversion would be available in the future.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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