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How to Protect Your Career After Arrested for a Theft Crime?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Mar 07, 2022

Many people are arrested for a California theft crime charge in Los Angeles, whether it be working for some business and you steal, or you go to the store, and you steal, you get a ticket and get arrested, you have to post bail, and now your whole future is on the line.

The reason your whole future is on the line is that with a theft conviction on your record, a future employer who will be able to look you up by way of a background check will see that you have been arrested and convicted of stealing.

That's going to make it very difficult for that future employer to hire you because they're not going to be able to trust that you won't steal from them.  That's wherein the problem lies when it comes to theft crimes.

That's why I deal with this question of whether or not it's possible to prevent a future employer from seeing that theft-related offense.  That's not an easy question.  It depends on many different factors. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review this topic further below.

Multiple Theft-Related Arrest

First, if you've got multiple prior records of theft, that makes it a lot more challenging to cover things up for purposes of a future employer. Next, even if you have no record and you pick up a new theft case, and you and you can somehow deal with the theft-related conviction — maybe you get Prop 47.

Perhaps you get some diversion program, whatever the case may be, and then you take care of that conviction, you avoid the conviction, or you get the conviction set aside somehow, you still have to deal with the arrest.

You could end up getting arrested for a case, get a conviction, then somehow get the conviction wiped out, or maybe you avoid a conviction altogether.  But, that future employer somehow sees that you were arrested for a theft-related offense.  That's a mark.  That's a blemish.  That's going to be a concern for that future employer.

Sealing an Arrest Record – Penal Code 851.91 PC

We have to figure out how to deal with that arrest record.  Some new laws have come into play — of course, depending on the circumstances — where you might be able to seal and destroy the arrest record.

Seal Arrest Record - Penal Code 851.91 PC

If you can effectively get that done, obviously through a seasoned attorney, now you're in a position where the Department of Justice is ordered by the court to take out the arrest record.  Now, the potential employer cannot see that arrest record.  If you dealt with the conviction effectively, you're in a position where nobody can see that theft-related offense.

In California, thousands of people are cited or arrested on many other theft-related misdemeanor or felony charges every year. However, many cases are never formally filed as criminal charges out of all these arrests. Many cases are filed but are later dropped by the prosecutor.

When this occurs, many arrestees don't realize you still have to take legal action to keep the arrest details off your public record that potential employers can see. Having an arrest for theft on your record can impact your ability to get a job.

Under the law, any person arrested in California but never convicted can have their arrest records sealed, and it will not appear on most criminal background checks. The old law for getting an arrest record sealed involved a petition to prove “factual innocence,” under Penal Code 851.8 PC, which was challenging to obtain.

The Care Act

An updated 2018 law, Senate Bill 393, The CARE Act, makes it easier to get your record sealed in the state of California.  This law took effect on January 1, 2018.

SB 393 changed the language within Penal Code Section 851 PC subsections by amending the law and adding PC 851.91 and 851.92. These changes make it much easier to seal your arrest record where you were arrested for a theft crime but never convicted.

When your arrest record is sealed, it means the arrest will be deemed not to have occurred, and you can answer “no” to that crucial question of “have you ever been arrested,” often asked by potential employers. After your arrest record is sealed under PC 851.87, your arrest will not appear publicly on background checks.

Expungement – Penal Code 1203.4 PC

Sometimes people get convicted of a theft-related offense, and they still want to do something to that conviction.  Often, you cannot seal and destroy the arrest record if you get convicted so the next best thing would be a dismissal or an expungement.

The new term is dismissal because that's really what effectively happens.  There's no such thing as a true expungement in California where you can completely wipe a conviction off your record, but you can get what's called a dismissal under 1203.4 of the Penal Code.

If you're able to get that, then when somebody looks it up, instead of seeing a conviction for a theft-related offense, they're going to know that you had a theft-related crime, but it was dismissed.  Sometimes, that's the best that you can do under the circumstances.

Common Theft Crime Charges on California

  • Penal Code 459 PC – burglary,
    Penal Code 459.5 PC – shoplifting
  • Penal Code 215 PC – carjacking,
  • Penal Code 211 PC – robbery,
  • Penal Code 459.5 PC – shoplifting,
  • Penal Code 537 PC – defrauding an innkeeper,
  • Penal Code 484 PC – petty theft,
  • Penal Code 487 PC – grand theft,
  • Penal Code 496 PC – receiving stolen property,
  • Penal Code 530 PC – identity theft,
  • Penal Code 666 PC – petty theft with prior,
  • Vehicle Code 10801 VC – operating a chop shop,
  • Vehicle Code 10851 VC – joyriding.

Contact our Law Firm for Help

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a theft-related offense and you're looking for an attorney to help you, whether you're at the beginning of the process, have that arrest record, or already been convicted, pick up the phone.

Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. I've been helping people just like you in Los Angeles County deal with theft-related offenses for approximately 30 years. The Hedding Law Firm is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense law firm, and we offer a free case consultation.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.