What is the difference (if there is one) in a petty theft charge and a shoplifting charge?
1 attorney answer
Petty theft is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum of three years probation, up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1000 under Penal Code section 484. It is the same as "shoplifting." I have in 45 years of criminal practice never seen someone with no record get jail time for a first time petty theft.
There are typically many ways to defend against petty theft charges. If an individual has no prior criminal record, a prosecutor may agree to allow that person to complete a diversion program instead of a conviction. Additionally, many times the stores involved will agree to a civil compromise in which they are fully compensated for the theft and the resources they expended in investigating it.
Nonetheless, this is not a DIY project. You need a lawyer.