Petty theft or shoplifting charges are most people’s first criminal offense. Thus, making their experience and the uncertainty surrounding both their present and future consequences that much more terrifying. In California, any theft of property or currency NOT exceeding $950 is considered petty theft under misdemeanor Penal Code statute 484. The penalties for a California petty theft conviction can result in jail time, probation, fines, community service, and/or “stay away” order from the victim or retail store. Although most first offense petty theft charges do not result in jail time, that does not make petty theft charges minor criminal offenses. Due to the fact the first offense punishment for petty theft rarely includes imprisonment in county jail for any period of time, many people often wonder if hiring a defense lawyer to fight petty theft charges is worth the investment or even necessary.

Yes! You Should Hire A Petty Theft Defense Lawyer    

Even if you are being charged with a 1st offense or not, a petty theft conviction on your criminal record can have far-reaching ramifications beyond the aforementioned punishments. The effect on your background can impede your ability to secure employment, approval for personal and student loans. In addition, a petty theft conviction can also exclude you from professional licensing eligibility, Global Entry travel consideration, or even volunteering at your child’s school or recreational sports programs. Therefore, it is imperative that you retain a criminal defense attorney with a successful track record of obtaining reductions or dismissals of petty theft charges. For those facing criminal charges for the first time, it is normal to assume there exists no possible legal defense. However, in reality, petty theft charges can be dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses even in the face of overwhelming evidence proving guilt.

In California, the crime of Vandalism is defined under California Penal Code 594(a) as maliciously damaging, defacing with graffiti or other inscribed material, or destroying any real or personal property not his or her own. Real property can include vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, or the federal government. The severity of punishment for a Vandalism charge largely depends on the nature and extent of the damage caused, as well as the defendant’s prior criminal history.

Is Vandalism a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Vandalism is classified as a “wobbler” offense in California, making the offense eligible to be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. The felony versus misdemeanor determination is based on the amount of destruction or defacement, and whether the cost of repair exceeds $400. Vandalism charges resulting in over $400 in damage could be prosecuted as felony crimes at the DA’s discretion.

For most of our clients arrested for DUI in California, their arrests represent their first ever contact with the criminal justice system. Given the involvement of both the criminal courts and California DMV in the DUI process, it is no surprise most people charged with first offense drunk driving charges find themselves scouring the internet to find out what they can expect moving forward and what they should be doing next. The following are some of the most common questions posed by our clients during their initial consultations following an arrest for DUI:

My car was impounded by the police….Can I get it out?

If you were arrested for a standard DUI, you will not have a problem getting your car released from impound after paying the associated storage/release fees and showing proof of insurance and ownership. It is important to note an impounded vehicle can be held on an “evidence hold” after a DUI arrest if the police are continuing an investigation into crimes in addition to your DUI charges, such as Hit & Run, Drug Possession with Intent to Sell, Transportation of Drugs, or Receiving/Possession of Stolen Property.

Although all criminal arrests in California procedurally involve the same process from the moment you’re taken into police custody through your first court appearance or arraignment hearing, investigations and arrests for domestic violence charges are conducted somewhat differently. It is critical to remember that you have a constitutional right against self-incrimination and a right to legal counsel. Thus, you should exercise your right to remain silent if you’ve been arrested or once you’ve received notice that you’ve been targeted as a suspect in a domestic violence investigation. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney with experience in domestic violence defense in California at the earliest possible stage in the investigative process can dramatically improve your chances minimizing the consequences or in some cases, avoiding domestic violence charges altogether.

Domestic Violence Prefile Investigations In California

Following a domestic violence arrest, the police department will often assign a detective or investigating officer to conduct an additional investigation to supplement the initial evidentiary findings obtained by the arresting officers. The supplemental investigation can include attempts to interview the alleged victim, witnesses, and/or you, yourself. If you are contacted by a detective, you should under no circumstances agree to be interviewed without your attorney present. You must assume the detective is not on your side and is simply attempting to gather more evidence to convict you by way of capturing an incriminating statement or admission of guilt. Detectives often manipulate people into waiving their 5th amendment rights by asking for “their side of the story.” Keep in mind, any subsequent statements that deviate from your initial statements at the time of your arrest could damage your credibility and aid the prosecution in their case against you, regardless of whether the alleged victim agrees to cooperate with police and prosecutors. Thus, your desire to have your version heard can have an adverse effect as it can impair the defense of your case.

Criminal defense in California is a complex area of legal practice with numerous misconceptions that are often held as popular belief. The majority of people arrested for their first criminal charge have no experience with the criminal justice system and, therefore, routinely rely on what they’ve seen on television and in movies. Much of what is popularized in TV and film is embellished, which further adds to the myths and misconceptions about the criminal justice system and more specifically, the California criminal justice system. One of the most common myths involves what happens if the police fail to read you your rights.

What is the Miranda warning?

Derived from the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling in the case of Miranda vs. The State of Arizona, the “Miranda Rights” as it has come to be known as are the Constitutional rights you maintain while in police custody. Among your rights, you have the right to an attorney and a right to remain silent. The common misconception among many people is that if the police fail to read them their rights or Miranda warning, it serves as a legal basis for all charges to be dropped. This is not the case as it is not uncommon for police officers to make arrests without reading a suspect his/her rights. The legal technicality with respect to the Miranda warning is simply based on whether you have been placed under arrest and whether the police interrogated you while in their custody. A Miranda violation would exist if you were placed under arrested and questioned by police without first being read your rights. However, if no interrogation or interview is conducted while you’re in police custody, the Miranda rights become a nonissue.

An arrest for soliciting a prostitute can be a frightening and embarrassing experience. For most people charged with solicitation or prostitution under California Penal Code 647(b), the arrest usually represents their first encounter with the criminal justice system. Consequently, most have a multitude of concerns following their release from police custody with questions ranging from whether their arrest details can be viewed by the public to how their careers or future employment prospects will be impacted if they are convicted.

If you are like most of our clients and have been arrested for the first time in your life on prostitution charges, this article could be of great value to you as it can provide with some insight into what you can expect moving forward and how an experienced Los Angeles prostitution defense lawyer can help you avoid a misdemeanor PC 647(b) conviction.

Prostitution and Solicitation charges in Los Angeles County

Alvin Ray Shaw, Jr. of Hawthorne was convicted of 2nd degree murder, felony DUI, and driving on a suspended license by a jury in Long Beach Court on Wednesday a result of a fatal car accident he caused on August 1, 2015. Prosecutors successfully argued Shaw, while intoxicated, drove his vehicle into oncoming traffic on the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach causing a car accident resulting in the death of a 30 year old San Pedro man and seriously injuring a 21 year old man. Shaw faces life in prison when he returns to court on March 8th.

Murder charges arising out of a DUI accident

Most people view murder as a crime involving the intent to harm the deceased person. However, Shaw’s case serves as a prime example of how a person can be charged and convicted of murder in the absence of intent to harm. In 1981, the California Supreme Court ruled in the People v. Watson that prosecutors could file murder charges against defendants in certain felony DUI cases involving fatalities. More specifically, what has become known as a “Watson Murder” could be charged in fatal DUI accidents when the defendant has been previously advised of the dangers of driving under the influence. Shaw received this very notice due to his prior DUI conviction, which involved both receiving a “Watson Warning” from the judge during his sentencing and during the course of the mandatory DUI education program he was previously ordered to complete. Under the theory of implied malice, prosecutors convinced jurors to convict Shaw on the count of 2nd degree murder based on the fact Shaw should have reasonably known through his prior DUI conviction and sentence that serious injury or death could result from drunk driving.

According to data collected in 2015 by the California Highway Patrol on hit and run collisions throughout LA County, there were almost 30,000 hit and run cases reported. Therefore, it should not be surprising that hit and defense accounts for a very large portion of our criminal defense firm’s case load. The following are the most common questions posed to us by our clients charged with hit & run in Los Angeles County:

Is it still a Hit & Run if I’m not at fault for the collision?

Yes. Responsibility or liability for a collision is not a factor. Whether you are deemed at-fault or not, you are required to remain at the scene of a traffic collision to provide proof of financial responsibility under California Vehicle Code statutes 20002 and 20001.

A man accused of an attempted rape of a 77 year old South Bay woman entered a not guilty plea at Torrance Court on Wednesday. Duncan Aaron Walton is accused of attempting to sexually assault the elderly woman at her Redondo Beach apartment complex before she was able to escape. Police arrested Walton shortly after receiving a 911 call from a neighbor who overheard the struggle. According to the criminal complaint filed by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Walton is charged with 3 felony charges of kidnapping to commit rape, assault with intent to commit rape, and elder abuse.

Walton’s sentencing exposure will be significant if he is convicted as he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole on the kidnapping to commit rape allegation under California Penal Code 209, and/or lifetime sex offender registration if his criminal defense attorney is able to secure a sentence of probation.

Torrance Criminal Defense Attorneys Since 1987

Shoplifting and retail theft account for a significant percentage of property crime in California, and the percentage has steadily increased since the passage of Prop. 47 in 2014. As a result, our West Los Angeles based criminal defense firm has taken on significantly more shoplifting cases than in years past. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the five most frequently asked questions posed to us by prospective clients faced with shoplifting charges in Los Angeles. If you have been recently cited or arrested for shoplifting, you will likely have similar questions and may find the following explanations beneficial:    

What kind of penalties am I facing on a 1st offense Shoplifting charge?

A first offense conviction for shoplifting carries up to 6 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, these are not mandatory punishments and only represent the maximum sentencing exposure you face if charged with shoplifting under California Penal Code 459.5. The range of punishment can vary depending on the facts of your case and your prior criminal history. Although jail time is rarely imposed on first offense shoplifting convictions, if you have a prior criminal record for non-theft related offenses or are currently on probation for a previous criminal conviction, a jail sentence could result if you were convicted of shoplifting even as a first offense. A typical 1st offense penalty usually involves a sentence of summary probation between 1 to 3 years, fines & penalty assessments, and/or community service or community labor.    

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