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Home > Crimes We Defend > Petty Theft and Shoplifting



Summit Defense attorneys have handled shoplifting charges involving every major area store.  Some of the more common are:


  • Fry's
  • Kohl's
  • Costco
  • Macy's
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Best Buy
  • Whole Foods


We have worked with clients accused of shoplifting, petty theft and grand theft from many major Bay Area retail establishments.


Most of our clients are honest professional people who hire us to keep their record clean.  We've found that some loss prevention personnel are overly agressive, often misunderstanding what may be an innocent mistake.  In other cases where our clients have done something wrong, we are very creative in negotiating outcomes that avoid the stigma of a criminal record.



Petty Theft Questions and Answers


What is Petty Theft?

Petty theft is a crime under Penal Code 484 and Penal Code 488 in California. Generally speaking, in most cases it involves the theft, or stealing, of property or services valued at under $950.


Even though this might sound like a relatively minor offense, a charge may affect your future, including your chances of employment. If this is your first charge and you are a first-time offender , there may be ways of avoiding a conviction with the right legal assistance. However, if you have prior convictions , even a petty theft accusation can expose you to serious penalties - if you have been accused of petty theft, you should contact Summit Defense Attorneys immediately to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.


What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is a kind of theft, and one of the most common types of petty theft, if the goods taken are worth less than $950. It is very common for people who actually did not mean to take property to be accused of shoplifting - it's easy to forget about something you've picked up in a store when distracted by children, a phone call, or simple absent-mindedness.


People accused of shoplifting will usually be confronted by loss prevention officers who are employed by the store. They will decide whether to call the police or not. If you are accused of shoplifting by a loss prevention officer, make sure that you call Summit Defense so one of our attorneys can help you. We've worked with loss prevention officers from stores all over Northern California, and we're usually able to help you to negotiate or settle the matter without having to get the police involved.


What is Grand Theft?

Grand theft is a crime under Penal Code 484 and Penal Code 487 in California. In most cases, it involves the theft of property or services valued at more than $950, or the theft of a vehicle, or of a firearm or gun. You might have heard the theft of a car or other vehicle referred to as ‘grand theft auto' and of a gun as ‘grand theft firearm'. Grand theft is a very serious charge, and may involve serious penalties - if you have been accused of grant theft, you should contact Summit Defense Attorneys right away so we can start working on your defense immediately.


Can I settle this out of court?

Yes - depending on what stage your case it at, and the exact nature of the accusations against you, an attorney may be able to help you reach an out-of-court, civil compromise or help you get access to a diversion program . At Summit Defense, our goal is always the compromise or full dismissal of charges, so you can feel confident that we will fight hard to get you the best result possible.


It is essential, however, to try to settle any matter as soon as possible, and certainly before charges are filed. . Your best chance of doing this is with the assistance of a lawyer who has experience in these kinds of matters. Summit Defense attorneys include a former District Attorney, former investigator, and former police officer - they have their own experience in investigating these kinds of matters and know how things work from the other side. This means you will have powerful and persuasive negotiators with a full range of experience on your side.


Do I really need a lawyer?

Yes, you do. Not only is it your right, but your best chance of fighting the case against you is by having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Summit Defense has handled many cases of shoplifting and other forms of theft allegations that never saw the inside of a courtroom - we are your best chance of making sure that you can avoid court too.


How can early intervention affect the success of my case?

At Summit Defense Attorneys, we know that early intervention is your best chance of success. It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you can, because there will be opportunities to settle or negotiate your case at the start that won't exist later. Summit Defense attorneys handle hundreds of cases and work with the stores, loss prevention officers, and police, to ensure that honest people who may have made a silly mistake are given a proper chance. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can try to reach a civil compromise in your case, or ensure that you're able to access one of California's diversion programs.


In a recent case, a client contacted us after being accused of shoplifting at a large retail store. She was upset to have received a ticket, but had not yet gone down to the Police Station. She told us that it was all a big misunderstanding, as she had forgotten she was carrying some items when she had received an urgent phone call. We were able to intervene early on her behalf, and discuss the matter with the store. Our discussions with the loss prevention officers indicated that there really wasn't enough evidence to prove the charge against her, and they accepted our client's explanation that it was a misunderstanding and a mistake. In the circumstances, the accusations were withdrawn and our client never had to see the inside of a police station, let alone the courtroom.


Any criminal accusation is a serious matter and, in the case of theft charges, may have consequences for the rest of your life. If you are facing an accusation of theft or shoplifting, contact Summit Defense Attorneys as soon as possible for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.



Petty Theft Case Results


CHARGES First time offender charged with grand theft and commercial burglary at Kohl's.
RESULT Not Guilty at Trial.

CHARGES Felony shoplifting at Macy's.
RESULT Client avoided conviction with a diversion program resulting in no criminal record.

CHARGES 6 counts of theft from the Federal Government. Client had a prior felony conviction.
RESULT All felony charges were dismissed. Plead to one misdemeanor. Sentenced to home detention.

CHARGES Client charged with Petty Theft at Costco.
RESULT After negotiating a settlement with store loss prevention personnel, all charges were dropped - no criminal record.

CHARGES Client charged with misdemeanor shoplifting/petty theft at Whole Foods.
RESULT After negotiation, DA declined to file, all charges dropped.

CHARGES Client charged with a felony theft charge. Faced up to three years in prison.
RESULT After conducting a thorough investigation and the results of which were presented to the District Attorney, the case was dismissed.
Attorneys On Call, Days and Evenings

Summit Defense Attorneys

Criminal Defense Attorneys in San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and Surrounding Communities

Summit Defense Attorneys – San Jose
map and directions
2570 N 1st Street, 2nd Floor
San Jose, CA 95131
Phone: 408-333-9622
Summit Defense Attorneys – San Francisco
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580 California Street, 12th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415-666-2316
Summit Defense Attorneys – Pleasanton
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6200 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 300
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Phone: 925-218-4730
Summit Defense Attorneys – Burlingame
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533 Airport Blvd, Suite 400
Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone: 650-763-8766
Summit Defense Attorneys – Marin
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4040 Civic Center Drive, Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: 415-524-7717
Summit Defense Attorneys – Oakland
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1970 Broadway, Suite 1145
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-352-1450
Summit Defense Attorneys – Richmond
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146 Washington Avenue, Suite D
Richmond, CA 94801
Phone: 510-412-8900
Summit Defense Attorneys – Sacramento
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770 L St #950
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-830-0061