If you, a family member or friend are convicted of petty theft, jail time for petty theft is actually a possibility. If there is a previous criminal record, the chances of jail time go up. If the accused possess a green card or if there is any question of immigration status, petty theft is considered a crime that the court calls a crime of “moral turpitude,” and it could lead to deportation.
In the State of California, theft is divided into two types: Grand theft and Petty theft. Theft of property valued at more than $950 is considered grand theft. Theft of property valued less than $950 is considered petty theft. Anyone convicted of petty theft could be fined up to $1,000 and spend up to six months in county jail.
While this is bad enough, there are greater consequences if there is a prior on the convicted person’s record. Anybody that has been previously convicted of the following crimes could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor for petty theft with a prior. Misdemeanors alone are punishable by up to twelve months in jail. Felonies carry sentences up to three years in prison.
The list of prior crimes that enhance the penalty for a petty theft conviction include:
- Petty theft
- Grand theft
- Elderly fraud
- Violent crimes
- Some sex crimes
How a current petty theft crime and prior crimes come together in the court is complicated. California’s criminal courts are difficult to navigate under the best of circumstances. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney is always going to be better than self-representation.