Don’t be fooled by the name of the crime – “petty” theft. It is a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
But there’s more… If you are convicted of any theft offense – petty theft, burglary, auto theft or grand theft to name a few, that conviction can be used against you in the future…. at least as far as how you’ll be viewed by the prosecution. The law changed recently with the passage of Proposition 47 making any petty theft a misdemeanor, regardless of how many convictions you have (with some exceptions).
Under Penal Code section 666, if you are convicted of a theft offense and serve one day in jail, then are charged with another theft theft in the future it can potentially be filed as a felony. (Edited because the law changed from one prior theft to three prior theft offenses in order to trigger the felony charge of Penal Code section 666.) For example, if you were arrested for shoplifting and are convicted of misdemeanor petty theft, then ten years later, you are arrested for any theft, the new theft can be filed as a felony. Even if the new theft was for something valued at a dollar, it can still be a felony and you could face up to three years in state prison.
In addition to the potential to have a theft conviction used against you in the future, it can also have other consequences. Theft offenses are crimes of “moral turpitude” that must be disclosed in job applications, certain licensing applications and student loan applications.
If you or a loved one has been accused of any theft offense, whether petty theft or something more serious, you need aggressive representation. Contact me for a consultation about your case.