Theft Defense Lawyer
Read about expansive changes for Los Angeles County Theft Cases.
If you or a loved one has been accused of theft in LA County, you likely have questions about your best options & strategies. The most important step is to quickly obtain representation from an experienced attorney.
George Kita is a Theft Defense Lawyer, & former prosecutor. Over the course of his 20+ year criminal law career, he has handled 100s of theft cases. He emphasizes early intervention, and focuses on exploring creative alternatives.
Call for a specific evaluation of your case, at 213-400-5355!
You can learn about important defense issues and strategies, below.
Where did your theft case occur?
The location of a theft incident may be the most significant issue in terms of developing a productive theft case solution. Some prosecuting agencies and judges are more amenable to creative solutions.
Therefore, a significant factor may be your theft attorney's familiarity with this prosecuting agency and courthouse. If your lawyer does not practice regularly in that court, you may miss out on early intervention or other alternative.
I quickly contact the prosecuting agency to request an out of court solution for clients, whenever possible. This may avoid a criminal theft record in some cases.
Is the theft your first offense?
First offenses may be eligible for Diversion Programs/Dismissals offered by the prosecutor, as well as the court (Judicial Diversion). First-offense misdemeanor theft cases prosecuted by City Attorney Offices have the best chance of out of court solutions, depending on their evaluation of relevant criteria.
What is the dollar value of your theft accusation?
The lower the amount of the theft accusation, the more likely your case may be eligible for an out of court option. Generally speaking, thefts below $150 are more likely to be considered for alternative programs, such as APPS, where a person accused of theft has an opportunity to earn a dismissal. (In unusual circumstances, higher value theft cases may be considered.)
Immediately after an arrest, I want to intervene with the prosecuting agency, before charges are filed. Filing decisions are not usually reversed once a case is filed in court; thus, early intervention can be extremely important in having a case thoroughly reviewed for creative solutions.
Is your case a felony or misdemeanor?
While the threshold for a felony theft case is $950+, theft cases in Los Angeles County will typically only be filed at felony levels if the amount exceeds $1500. Felony theft cases are not generally reviewed for court alternatives; however, a felony theft arrest may sometimes be steered in a misdemeanor direction.
Mitigating Circumstances for Creative Theft Solutions
In my experience, prosecutors may consider court alternatives when the scales are tipped in favor of the accused. Some factors of importance include: whether the person is a high school or college student with good grades, whether he or she has volunteered for community organizations in the past, current employment or significant prospective employment, early admission of guilt, whether the person lacked sophistication/planning in the theft incident, as well as other criteria.
Alternatives in Los Angeles County Theft Cases
I make substantial efforts to avoid a theft conviction on a client's record, whenever possible. In some cases a solution may be possible with City Attorney Diversion (Prior to a Guilty or No Contest Plea) or APPS (American Justice Associates).
If a case is not accepted for an out-of-court solution, and if the prosecutor may have problems with the case, I try to promote a civil compromise type resolution, such as those noted in Penal Code section 1377-1379.
There are other options which can also be explored in more serious cases. In cases where the prosecution has a strong case, I may propose a plea to a less serious charge.
If a case is a felony, I develop dialog regarding reduction to a misdemeanor. In misdemeanor grand theft cases, I would generally make efforts for a petty theft or trespass charge.
If a prosecutor is willing to agree to a less serious charge, I promote charges which can be reduced to infractions in the future, Penal Code section 490.1 (Theft $50 or less) or Penal Code section 555 (Trespass), as well as deferred pleas. I always try to keep a client's options open whenever possible.
All Los Angeles County theft charges are serious, and it is important to understand your options, potential consequences, and rights.
If you or a loved one has been accused of theft, George Kita can determine your best strategies. Call him, today, at 213-400-5355!
*Theft case outcomes hinge on applicable facts/law.