san jose theft lawyer maureen baldwinSan Jose Theft Lawyer

San Jose Theft Lawyer, In California, grand theft is stealing something of more than $950 in value, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession. Grand theft is a felony, but can alternatively charged as a misdemeanor.

Petty theft, a misdemeanor, is taking something valued at less than $950. If the item taken is valued at less than $50, petty theft can be charged as an infraction.

A grand theft felony can result in no more than 3 years in prison, unless there is an “excessive taking” alleged. If the value of the property stolen is above $50,000, “excessive taking” can add additional prison time. “Excessive taking” or taking of a large amount of money or property can subject a person to increased immigration consequences, beyond the consequences of a crime of moral turpitude. If you are charged with a felony grand theft, a criminal attorney, working hand-in-hand with an immigration attorney, will know what to watch for, and what pleas are “safer” for ICE.

If a person is convicted of felony grand theft, but is not sent to prison, and successfully completes probation, he/she can request that the court reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor. While this is not technically part of the “record clearance” procedure also discussed in this site, this step is typically taken when you hire an attorney for record clearance.

Theft charges can range from allegations against corporations for embezzlement’s where large amounts of money or goods are allegedly taken slowly over the course of several months or even years, down to taking a t-shirt from a department store. Felony grand theft is not a strike so after court realignment, even if the person is sentenced to state prison, the sentence will generally be served in a county jail instead.

Shoplifting: Shoplifting is usually charged as a petty theft because the merchandise taken is usually less than $950. The suspect is usually given a petty theft citation and told to book at the police department before the court date. In California, many jurisdictions allow for a program called petty theft diversion, which allows for completion of some type of classes, sometimes volunteer work, payment of restitution, and then the case is dismissed if it is a first offense. Until July, 2012, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office did NOT allow for petty theft diversion.

In July, 2012, the DA’s office changed their policy on first offense petty thefts, as well as other minor misdemeanors such as possession of a small amount of stolen property and trespassing. The DA’s office now reviews petty theft citations within about 30-60 days after the person receives the petty theft citation. This is done independently of a criminal defense attorney. If the petty theft is a first offense, does not involve taking a large amount of merchandise, or any pre-planning such as bringing in devices to remove sensors from merchandise, the District Attorney will send the party a letter in the mail, informing him of the Community Accountability Program. Completing this program requires payment of store restitution fees, community service, a class, and an administrative fine. If this is all completed in the appropriate case, the CASE IS NEVER EVEN FILED IN COURT! This keeps a person’s criminal record completely clean for future employers, licenses, and even immigration!

Embezzlement: Embezzlement charges can be as simple as a cashier taking money from the cash register in the amount a few hundred dollars to a bookkeeper or office manager or assistant who has access to company checks re-routing checks from the company to themselves, the allegations can be simple and straightforward to very complex. There is always a proof issue in embezzlement cases. Generally the employee has been confronted by their employer and fired before the court action starts. Sometimes, the company does not keep good records, or a large store simply assumes one cashier has committed the theft because one cash register has come up short. By the time the police get involved, the employee has sometimes tried working something out on their own with the employer, only to find they have lost both their job and are now facing criminal records. If you are contacted by your employer about a “discrepancy” you should contact an attorney, An employer does NOT need to read you Miranda rights! Embezzlements of less than $950 are generally filed as misdemeanors, and over that amount, they are usually charged as felonies. Unfortunately, the amounts are not often clear in embezzlement cases. An employer may look at his books and estimate the loss at $5000 when a careful look will show the loss is substantially less. Please refer to the Embezzlement and fraud section of this website.

Fraud charges also cover a large area of conduct. A person may be charged with fraud in connection with false financial statements in connection with large purchases such as real estate. Fraud has also been charged in connection with falsely obtaining insurance proceeds, such as workers’ compensation, liability insurance, unemployment, or welfare benefits. Fraud cases can be either very complicated and sophisticated, with multiple persons responsible for the fraud, down to falsely claiming eligibility for welfare or unemployment benefits. Fraud charges are usually charged as a felony and can be punished with a maximum of 3 years in prison unless there is “excessive taking” as discussed above. However some types of very simple fraud-like charges such as bad checks and welfare fraud in a small amount can be charged as misdemeanors. In many types of fraud, the matter is handled in civil court, since it is not always clear to the prosecutor whether there was an intent to defraud, or whether money was lost due to a bad investment scheme.

I have handled many of these types of cases. The first question in assessing a case of this type-What can be proven, criminally–may be straightforward or more complicated since these charges can cover so many types of conduct. Many times, people who would normally have no contact with the criminal justice system can get into trouble with checks or credit cards where they have simply got in over their heads and begun to rob Peter to pay Paul. Hiring an attorney in this situation is often difficult because of financial problems. I would, however, urge you to hire counsel for these types of charges since they can be serious and are damaging to your criminal record and employability in the future.

Get an Experienced San Jose Theft Lawyer

For more information on theft and fraud charges and defense please contact San Jose Theft Lawyer Maureen Baldwin today.

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