Many charged with theft offenses in San Diego are ordinary folks who make an isolated mistake or error in judgment. During tough economic times, those who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet sometimes make desperate decisions they wish they could take back.

Whether you are charged with petty theft or shoplifting under Penal Code Section 484 or grand theft under Penal Code Section 487, a conviction on a misdemeanor or felony can have a devastating effect on your future. You will have a criminal record that that will be revealed in background checks conducted by employers, professional licensing boards, landlords and others. Even if you can get the theft offense expunged (dismissed) after conviction, it will sometimes still show up in many background checks, depending on who’s conducting it.

If you’re accused of petty or grand theft, do not discuss your case with law enforcement. If the police try to talk to you, ask to speak to an attorney and decline to answer questions.

What the Law Says

Theft offenses under Penal Code Section 484 and Section 487 are considered crimes of moral turpitude. This type of offense is considered more than just wrong because there is a law that prohibits it. Rather, crimes of moral turpitude are considered acts that are inherently wrong because they show a propensity for dishonesty. A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude can have a substantial impact on your future. It may result in denial of occupational licenses in a wide range of professions including a law license, real estate license, contractor’s license and even a license to sell cars. It may also prevent you from obtaining immigration benefits in certain situations.

Generally, theft offenses are divided into petty theft and grand theft, which are differentiated based on the value of the property that is allegedly taken. If the property taken is $950 or less, it is considered petty theft and is classified as a misdemeanor under Penal Code Section 484. However, a subsequent conviction of this type may be considered a felony. If the amount taken exceeds $950, it may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor grand theft under Penal Code Section 487.

Theft Defense Strategies

I have represented many people in and around San Diego who were falsely accused of shoplifting or theft, or who made an isolated mistake in a moment of desperation and have developed many effective defense strategies. My primary objective is always to have the case dismissed and the charges dropped.

First, I carefully investigate all the evidence against you, including video surveillance footage and loss prevention reports, to develop the strongest possible defense. I may also file motions to have critical evidence excluded based on evidentiary rules or constitutional protections. In one related shoplifting case in Chula Vista, I was able to get a client’s confession thrown out because the arresting officer conducted an illegal interrogation.

Where the evidence against you is overwhelming, I seek to have the charges reduced to a less serious offense so that you may be allowed to participate in a diversion program. Those accused of theft who have no prior record and simply made a one-time mistake may be able to avoid criminal conviction by paying restitution through a civil compromise and completing community service.

I aggressively pursue the most favorable outcome possible to help my clients avoid damaging long-term consequences and go on with their lives.