Aside from a very good defense, it is highly unlikely that your case will just be dismissed out of the kindness of the court's or prosecutor's heart. That being said, if a dismissal can be negotiated it will most certainly come with conditions ranging from paying a fine, performing community service and, in some instances, counseling. The bottom line, be prepared to earn your dismissal. It may not be immediate but the end result (no conviction) is all that matters
In the context of a petty theft case, this normally requires that you enter a plea guilty or no contest to the charges after which the court continues sentencing for a period of time (generally 6 month to 1 year). During this time, you will be required to obey all laws and complete any conditions imposed by the court. Upon successful completion, the court will allow you to withdraw your plea and dismiss the case. Mission accomplished! However, if you do not complete the conditions, the court will proceed with sentencing resulting in a petty theft conviction on your record.
Petty Theft Infraction
Depending on the amount of theft, it is sometimes possible to negotiate for a petty theft infraction pursuant to Penal Code Section 490.1 which makes any theft of under $50 an infraction. An infraction will not impact your future as a misdemeanor petty theft conviction would.
Must Hire An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
In order to maximize your chances of avoiding a petty theft conviction, you really MUST hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The suggestions noted above are meant to give you an idea of what is possible in terms of avoiding a petty theft conviction. The execution of any of these suggestions truly requires the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer.