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Common questions about petit/petty theft

Posted by Christi Schofield | Oct 04, 2019 | 0 Comments

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What is petty theft?

Petty theft (charged as “petit theft”) is the theft of property or money valued at $1,000 or less. Petty theft is a misdemeanor in Idaho and is punishable by a fine of no more than $1,000 or a maximum of one year in jail.

 

What is the typical punishment for a petty theft charge?

Petty theft charges vary from case-to-case. Just because one client has a certain outcome in one case, doesn't mean that another client will have the same or similar outcome in another case. These cases depend on a number of factors, including the strength of the evidence, the circumstances surrounding the incident, the value of property stolen, the defendant's criminal history, the county the crime is charged in, etc. However, typically defendants are ordered to pay a fine plus court costs, complete a petty theft course, serve jail time, and complete a term of probation.

 

How will a petty theft charge impact my future?

A theft conviction can have serious short and long term consequences beyond those punishments ordered by the court and can potentially affect your employment, personal relationships, and reputation. A conviction can be particularly harmful in terms of gaining future employment, state licensing, and other benefits. The conviction will appear on background checks and employers tend to pass on applicants with theft records, fearing dishonesty and the possibility of stealing from their companies.

Unlike other crimes, such as DUIs, petty theft is considered a "crime of moral turpitude.” This means it involves an immortal, untruthful, or dishonest act. It can not only prevent you from obtaining certain occupations but can also stand in the way of professional licenses, certifications, and even federal student loans for education. This is why it's important to at least consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case.

 

Should I hire an attorney (even if I plan on pleading guilty)?

Yes. Even if you plan on pleading guilty, there is a lot of good that can be done by hiring an attorney. Even if you never plan on going to trial, you will want an attorney. Here's why: 

  1. We ensure your legal rights are protected
  2. We provide you with knowledge and resources
  3. We help you navigate the complex legal waters, in and out of the courtroom
  4. We negotiate plea deals - knowing full well what a good result looks like and how to achieve it
  5. We act as a buffer between you and the court - everyone must go through us to get to you
  6. We answer your questions and address your concerns - We provide you with the information you need to make a good decision
  7. We tell your story
  8. We fight for you...and we know what we are doing

The law is complex. It is filled with convoluted rules and procedures Just like you wouldn't want to do your own surgery, you don't want to make your criminal case a weekend DIY project. 

 

Can you expunge a petty theft charge?

Because expungement in Idaho is very, very rare…probably not. However, there are still many things that can be done to mitigate the impact a petty theft charge can have on your life. One thing is to obtain a withheld judgment. Each person is given one withheld judgment in their life in Idaho. If your attorney requests one on your behalf at sentencing, the court approves the request, and you complete everything you are ordered by the court to do (successfully complete probation, pay your fine, etc.), the court can dismiss the conviction. This enables you to say that you have not been convicted of offense. To read more about withheld judgments visit our page on withheld judgments and blog post How Long Will a Crime Stay on Your Record in Idaho? 

 
Is a petty theft charge worth fighting?

Absolutely! Do not let a theft conviction follow you around for the rest of your life!  Every theft case is different and our attorneys scrutinize the facts of every case to see if the prosecutor really has enough evidence to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, we can challenge the evidence in court, get the case dropped, or win the case at trial.

Even if the evidence is overwhelming, we can fight to try and get the charge reduced or limit the punishment to community service and/or probation.

 

Call Us To Discuss Your Case

If you are charged with petty theft in Idaho, you need a lawyer that will fight to protect your rights. Call us today for a free consultation! 

About the Author

Christi Schofield

Christi is an experienced attorney who represents clients in criminal and family law matters in the Treasure Valley and surrounding areas. 

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