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Prison v. Probation in a Theft Crime Case


This is a big question on many people’s minds when they’re being prosecuted for a theft case in Los Angeles County, and that is, will they go to prison, or will they be looking at probation?

Many people don’t understand how criminal law works related to theft defenses. Even if you get probation, if it’s charged as a felony, you can still be looking at up to a year in the county jail.

Of course, if you go to prison, you’re typically going to be looking at a 3-year sentence.  So, when we talk about prison versus probation in a theft case, there are several different factors that prosecutors and judges will evaluate in deciding what type of a resolution they’re going to try and saddle you with.

It’s my job as your criminal defense attorney, having done this for 30 years, to figure out a strategy to combat whatever it is they’re coming up with, especially if they’re trying to send you to prison.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review the theft offense laws below.

Standard Theft Crime Charges on California

  •  Penal Code 459 PC – burglary,
  • 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 487(d)(2) – grand theft firearm,
  • 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,

What Are the Primary Factors Determining Jail Time?

The type of factors they’re going to be looking at is your criminal record.  Do you have a bunch of theft cases?Prison v. Probation in a Theft Crime Case in California

If you’ve been stealing all your life and you’re a career offender, they’re going to want to send you to prison.  No, if, and, or buts about it. That doesn’t mean you’re going to go to prison, but they’re trying to send you to prison.

Another significant factor is sophistication level.  In other words, how does the theft work?  Are you just going into a store and stealing items? That’s not going to be a prison case.

Or is it more sophisticated?  Are you an employee who sits in a position of trust stealing things?  Is your scam sophisticated?

The next thing they’re going to look at is the value of whatever it is that you’re purportedly stealing.  In other words, is it something under $950.00?  You’re likely going to get charged with a misdemeanor.

Is it over $950.00?  Is it in the thousands?  Does it involve a huge corporation?  Is money being transferred from accounts? We have to look at what exactly is happening, the value of the property, the sophistication level, what’s your prior criminal record looks like.

Now, we’re in an excellent position to assess whether they will try to send you to prison and whether you deserve prison.

Prosecution and Propositions in Theft Cases

Some cases, prosecutors take the position your client deserves prison.  They won’t stop stealing.  We have no other alternative.

That’s the worst thing we can do to them which is send them to prison.  So, if you’re thinking about your case and trying to figure out how you want to handle it. One good thing that we have going on right now, especially in Los Angeles County, is there’s a new prosecutor.

There’s a bunch of propositions that have been passed that are helping people who go to prison, striking some of the enhancements that can cause vast amounts of time.Los Angeles Theft Crime Lawyer

Also, there are propositions that have been passed that can be utilized to protect somebody’s criminal record, especially if you have no prior offenses on your record.

It sets you up to be successful in the future, and the reason this mitigation has come is that people who have committed theft crimes, even the most minor theft crimes, have had their records blemished for life.

In other words, they end up with a conviction even on a misdemeanor case that they cannot get off their record, and now they try to get a job, and an employer sees the theft-related offense, and they’re saying, I’m not going to hire this person.

How can I possibly trust somebody who steals things?  So, that is where society has come in and said, wait a minute, sometimes some of these people can be reformed and maybe we need to give them a chance.

Maybe we need to take a second look at some of these charges.  If we end up arresting somebody and we don’t file a case against them, maybe we need to give them the opportunity to seal and destroy their arrest record.

If we’re going to usually file a felony against somebody with no record, maybe we need to figure out a way so that they can earn a misdemeanor in their particular criminal case.  So, it really just depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding your theft crime as to exactly how it is going to be handled.

Defending California Theft Crime Charges

My suggestion, if you’re worried about going to prison, worried about going to county jail, you need the best attorney, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve got very fair prices.  I’ve been doing this a long time.  I’ve been in the position that you’re in from a criminal defense standpoint trying to help somebody.

I’ve been down this road before.  If you want help, pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.

Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County and serves people throughout Southern California, including Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Our firm offer a free case evaluation by calling 213-374-3952.

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About the Author

Named Top Los Angeles Criminal Attorney by LA Times and named one of the Top 100 criminal defense attorneys in California by the National Trial Lawyers Association. I'm the attorney other lawyers hire to defend them.

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