Some offenses, depending on the specific circumstances of the individual and the alleged crime, may be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor. The most common type of this crime is petty theft under Penal Code Sections 484 or 490.1.
If you have been charged with any type of crime, an experienced and aggressive defense attorney will look at the specific facts of your case to determine whether the law will allow a misdemeanor to be lowered to an infraction. In order to determine whether your petty theft charge can be lowered to an infraction from a misdemeanor, it is important to understand the difference between the two types of charges.
What Is an Infraction?
The difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor can be significant. An infraction is considered a criminal charge. However, if you plea no contest to the infraction, it will not appear on your Department of Justice record. However, it may appear on other records, such as local police agency records, court records, and your driving record. An infraction is only punishable by monetary fine, not by jail time or probation.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor carries a much severe punishment and more serious consequences overall. A misdemeanor conviction can go on your Department of Justice records. A misdemeanor conviction may carry a punishment of monetary fines, up to a year in jail and fines up to $1,000. Certain misdemeanors even carry mandatory jail terms.
Infractions generally resolve quickly – typically, in one to three court appearances. This is common for traffic tickets, parking tickets and tickets for litters. On the other hand, misdemeanors can take several months or even years to resolve, even without trial.
Infraction Petty Theft v. Misdemeanor Petty Theft
Petty theft is legally defined as taking property that belongs to someone else. If the value of the property taken is $50 or less, the prosecutor has the option of charging you with either a misdemeanor (PC 484) or infraction (PC 490.1). If your criminal defense attorney can convince the prosecutor to drop a misdemeanor petty theft charge down to an infraction, you can avoid jail time and probation. As an infraction, the worst sentence the judge can give is a maximum monetary fine of $250.
The ability to reduce a petty theft charge to a lower charge of an infraction should be enough incentive for you to immediately hire the best criminal defense attorney possible. With a good attorney on your side, you can be confident that you will receive the best outcome possible.
Call an Experienced Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one was has been arrested for allegedly taking an item that belongs to someone else (known as the crime of petty theft), it is important to seek immediate legal assistance. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Fresno grand theft defense attorney Gurjit Srai, please call us at (209) 323‐5558 or (559) 449‐1447, or complete our online form.