This is not that out of the ordinary in LA County, because the court system is so backed up and things get lost. In 2012, I handled a Probation Violation from 1989 and a Driving with a Suspended License charge from 1990. Both cases were in Criminal Courts Building in Downtown Los Angeles. In both cases, the clients had been stopped by police within the past 20 years and nothing showed up until it randomly appeared.
You actually do not have to appear in court because you can hire an attorney to motion up your case and appear on your behalf for a Misdemeanor Petty Theft. In some cases, you do not ever have to appear. If you would like, give me a call tomorrow and we can discuss how to clear up this case.
Seth Weinstein, Esq.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply.
We have handled many similar matters. A great deal will depend on the complete facts of the case and on the cooperation received from the head of the local district attorney's office. He/she may remove it with a little negotiation. Or in the alternative if there isn't much cooperation with the district attorney's office then a Serna motion may be in order to have the court dismiss the case outright. Typically, the district attorney cooperates on such matters if presented properly. Either way you will need to retain an attorney so that you are represented in the best light and so that you can eliminate / reduce your trips to Los Angeles.
The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.
Hire one of these criminal attorneys down in L.A. to get this resolved ASAP.
Even a conviction for Petty theft should not hold up your adoption through CPS - but you need to get it taken care of right away to avoid any problems.