Based upon the information that you have provided, and without knowing more, I would say that the best outcome for you would either be an outright dismissal, a dismissal after completing some theft classes or reducing your charge under Penal Code section 484(a) to an infraction would be the best, and most likely, outcomes in your position.
Considering this is your first offense and the dollar amount is relatively low, I would want to pursue the dismissal path as this will afford no conviction on your criminal record. Other options, as mentioned above, include possible infractions to trespassing or disturbing the peace.
If you would like some additional information, or for a free consultation, contact our office at (818) 783-5700. You can also look us up online at www.4criminaldefense.com.
The civil demand should not have an bearing on your case. There are 2 prosecutors that handle petty theft cases in Whittier, are you in department 5?
As I stated before you may be eligible for an infraction. I just worked out a deal for one of my clients where I got her charges dismissed.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.
The very best outcome is that charges are never filed or dismissed and you're found factually innocent by a judge. That will seal and destroy your arrest record and wipe the slate clean.
From there, a dismissal without a guilty plea is the next best
A dismissal after a diversion
An infraction and/or a different charge
The civil demand letter is just that - a demand. It has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of your criminal case. If you pay it, it won't change a thing on your criminal prosecution. If you ignore it, it won't make things worse. If you do a little search here on avvo, you'll find that the overwhelming response to questions about civil demand letters is to ignore them, as they're all bark and no bite. The firms that send those letters (almost) never follow up if you ignore them.
A dismissal, (preferably by informal diversion or potentially a civil compromise depending on the store), or reduced to an infraction would be the goals. Call me at 818-336-1384 if you would like to talk about your case in more detail.
Legal disclaimer: This message does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This message does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established once a retainer agreement has been fully executed between you and this firm.