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Can Petty Theft Charges be Dropped?
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If you’ve been charged with petty theft, you may be wondering what your punishment will be. The short answer is that it depends. Some prosecutors may reduce a petty theft charge to an infraction while others could allow a first-time offender to complete a diversion program in order to avoid a criminal conviction.
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What is Petty Theft?

Theft is the act taking of someone else’s property without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. The crime of petty theft is when the value of the item stolen is less than a specified amount, such as $500. When merchandise is stolen from a shop or department store, the crime is referred to as shoplifting.

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What’s the Difference Between Theft and Larceny?

Generally speaking, the crime of “theft” is an umbrella term that includes all different kinds of criminal stealing, including identity theft, theft of intellectual property, theft of services, and theft of personal property. Meanwhile, “larceny” is defined as the theft of personal property capable of being possessed and carried away.

Also Read: Civil Demand Letters and Shoplifting

What Happens if You Get Caught Shoplifting and They Let You Go?

If you’ve been caught stealing, you are not entirely free and clear, even if the store allows you to leave. If the company sends a civil demand letter, they may still decide to press charges if you refuse to pay restitution.

A civil demand letter demands a certain sum of money, even if the stolen goods were recovered undamaged. The money is meant to cover the expense incurred by shoplifters, including the cost of hiring security guards, the cost of installing security systems, the cost of teaching employees how to deal with shoplifters, and the cost of legal fees, such as having a lawyer on retainer.

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How to Get Petty Theft Charges Dropped

There are 3 separate ways for petty theft charges to be dropped. They are:
1. Pretrial Diversion – Involves the defendant pleading guilty and having their sentence suspended by a judge. The offender will be ordered to complete a diversion program. Upon completion of the program, his or her case will be dismissed.

2. Plea Bargain – Accepting a plea bargain with the victim or courts is another way that can allow a charge of petty theft to be dropped. This can often be done with restitution being paid. In many cases, the defendant will admit to the crime and the charges will get dropped.

3. Proof of Innocence – If you are able to show the district attorney that you are innocent, they cannot proceed with a charge. The charges will then have to be dropped. There is no evidence for them to convict you.


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