When you take an iterm without permission from the owner and the value is less then $400.00 that is a Petty Theft. Penal Code Section 484-488
How to Get a Petty Theft Case Dismissed
There are several ways to get a Petty Theft Case Dismissed. (1) The taking of the item can not be accidental. That is, if you thought you paid for the item or you did not realize you had the item on you and walked out of a store that is NOT petty theft. (2) Even if you committed the crime you can still get the case dismissed if you have no prior record and a skillful lawyer. Sometimes the District Attorney will allow dismissals if the client takes a class and stays out of trouble for 3 months, EVEN IF THEY CAN PROVE THE CASE. (3) If the amount of the stolen property is less then $50.00 you may get the matter reduced to an infraction under penal code section 490.1. However, a dismissal is always preferable.
The maximum sentence for a Petty Theft is 6 months in jail and $1,000.00 fine. However, it is VERY rare for anyone accused of Petty Theft to spend anytime in jail. The only exception for this is if the Defendant has a prior Petty Theft conviction. In that case the matter can become a felony and then the Defendant can spend a maximum of 3 years in prison EVEN IF THE CURRENT AND PRIOR CASE INVOLVES TAKING AN ITEM FOR LESS THEN $50.00.