Most individuals understand that they could face increasingly serious consequences if they make a habit of getting arrested; and with statutes like those creating “three strike laws,” it’s never really a surprise when an individual faces harsher penalties for multiple arrests.
One area that many individuals are surprised by, however, is petty theft charges when a person has certain prior convictions. Though it comes as a surprise to most, charges of petty theft with a prior can be very serious.
What is Petty Theft with a Prior?
The law related to ‘petty theft with a prior’ can be found within the California Penal Code, and it states that those convicted of prior theft crimes who are then charged with petty theft can face increased consequences. These prior crimes can include burglary, petty theft, grand theft, robbery and several other types of theft-related charges.
Luckily for those arrested, a charge of petty theft with a prior can only be brought if a person has spent time in jail for three of the aforementioned types of criminal acts or if they spent time in jail for one of those crimes plus either a sex crime or other “serious” felony.
Bail Amounts for Petty Theft with a Prior
Bail amounts are not mandated by the state of California, and because of this, counties set their own bail amounts in their bail schedules. This means that these amounts can vary by county, and in reality, they may even vary by prosecutor. This is because petty theft with a prior is considered a “wobbler” in California; meaning it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.
Some counties, such as Los Angeles, have bail set for misdemeanor petty theft with a prior at $2,500, but it’s when the felony charges kick in that this becomes even more serious. Still considering Los Angeles, this amount jumps to $20,000 if charged as a felony. Orange County also has the felony charge set at $20,000, but some counties, such as Sacramento, have this lowered to $10,000.
The most important thing for a person charged with this crime to remember is that they don’t have to pay these full amounts to get out of jail. California’s family-owned bail bond agency,Bail Hotline, can secure a person’s release at a small percentage of the face bail amount – and even payment plans are even possible. This makes it easy for a person to quickly be released so they can start working on their defense, get back home to their families and to their jobs.
Punishments Petty Theft with a Prior
As mentioned earlier, petty theft with a prior can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, it can only be punished by one year in jail. If it is charged as a felony, however, the penalty can be as much as three years in a state prison. Since this can be a result for nothing more than a few shoplifting convictions, it’s obvious how serious these multiple charges can become.
California takes repeat offenses very seriously, and this even includes petty theft charges. Individuals facing these charges would do well to quickly make bail and seek legal assistance. These are very serious charges, and the consequences can be much more detrimental than those they have faced in the past.