Yopur post presents some interesting issues. However, without knowing more about the potential Miranda issue, I cannot provide a meaningful comment as to what impact that had or might have respecting your case and any potential disposition.
The first question you probably ought to ask is, even without your statement, does the state have sufficient evidence to prosecute you? If the answer is yes, you should be attempting to resolve the case before trial. Second question is what is a potential sentence that you are facing? Part of that question might be a consideration of how much was taken. If in excess of $100K, prison might be mandatory.
The "offer" made, as you expressed it is not necessarily a felony conviction. If you enter a plea and the judge says, " Imposition of sentence suspended on the following terms and conditions...", a sentence has not been imposed. You may return to court at a future date and have the court reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor, impose sentence and then expunge the record. IF you have successfully completed probation (no violations, all fines paid, restitution paid - might be better to put "debt" on that issue)
However, an expungement does not resolve your "prior" conviction problem. You will have a conviction for theft on your record which will never go away. You may tell any potential employer that you have not been convicted, except for a governmental entity or licensong body (not including DMV if you are just seeking a CDL).
You said others were involved. Have you discussed the pros and cons of assisting the prosecution in a case against the others?
Given the nature of how criminal cases are generally handled, the potential structure of both the DA's and PD's offices, I would not say it is uncommon for the DA to make an offer before the PD assigned attorney actually talks to you.
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Public defenders are capable attorneys but they are short on time. In order to have someone look deep into your case and explore every possible option, you are going to need to hire an attorney.
As to the question of whether it is worth it to go into debt in order to do so, that is a personal decision that you have to make. If it were me, I would be willing to go into debt in order to keep a felony off my record. A felony can be life changing.
If you have questions feel free to contact my office for a brief discussion at no charge.
You shouldn't feel uneasy about the PD receiving an offer prior to talking to you. Often the DA will extend an offer pre preliminary hearing before the attorney and his client have had significant contact. The fact that the PD passes the offer along means he is doing what he is supposed to do. You don't have to accept it.
Embezzlement cases are punished like theft cases. PC 514. The dividing line between a between grand and petty theft is any amount over $400 but even if you take more than $400 and are charged with a felony it can later be reduced to a misdemeanor. If this is contemplated it should be put on the record at the time of the plea.
If I were you I would trust my PD. Incidentally I am not one so I am not protecting my own.
The District Attorney in the Fontana Court reviews the file and makes an offer at an early stage. When this offer is recieved by your attorney, he has an obligation to relay and explain the offer to you. You should not feel uneasy about your attorney talking to the District Attorney, that is his job. Obviously, you have numerous questions which could not be answered by anyone without a thorough review of the facts in the police reports as well as those in your possession which could only be obtained by an interview. The initial offer from the District Attorney is subject to negotiation. Wether these charges can be reduced or not defends on a number of factors. The question can only be answered truthfully after all the work is done, not at the beginning. Miranda violations can prevent the answers that you provided to questioning from being used against you at trial. Depending on the significance of this evidence, it might or might not make a difference at trial. Often there is other evidence besides your statements in a case like this and the whole picture has to be analyzed by a competent attorney.