The charge of Petty Theft under Penal Code Sections 484(a)-488 is a very commonly alleged crime and generally not considered serious as first time offenders generally face no jail time and small fines. However, the effect of such a conviction on professionally licensed persons like Nurses, Doctors, Lawyers and Teachers can be career ending.
The reason for this is that Petty Theft (and any theft offense) is considered a crime of moral turpitude and in the jobs indicated above convictions for crimes of moral turpitude call into question the character of the person. As such the licensing board of each vocation can convene a hearing to decide whether the person is of sufficient character to continue to perform that job in light of their conviction. For example, in the event of a Nurse getting a conviction for Petty Theft the Nursing Board can convene a hearing and could put the person on “license probation.” This status could make the person unemployable. Other lesser punishments may occur as well.
The way to prevent this situation is to avoid a conviction altogether. Attorney Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many professionals to include Nurses and Teachers accused of Petty Theft and other charges. Mr. Bruzzo has managed to negotiate arrangements which sometimes involve community service and charitable giving as a way to avoid a conviction or guilty plea.
Notably, some places like Orange County have programs which allow first time petty theft offenders to avoid a conviction by entering a diversion program. A diversion program usually requires a guilty plea with deferment (postponement) of sentencing and completion of a program; once the individual completes the program the guilty plea is withdrawn and the case dismissed. In this way there is no conviction since the person was never sentenced and California requires sentencing for a conviction.
However, what many people (and some attorneys) do not understand is that because the diversion programs requires a guilty plea the diversion program is not helpful for Nurses and other licensed individuals. This is because the Nursing Board, for example, treats a guilty plea as it if were a conviction.
Mr. Bruzzo has even counseled other criminal defense lawyers as to the dangers of diversion programs for certain individuals; it is very important that you hire a lawyer who knows what is at stake in your particular situation. Mr. Bruzzo also works with a licensing lawyer, Fred Ray Esq. to make sure that the client is getting the best representation possible and one that will preserve his/her ability to work in their chosen field.
Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Bruzzo or look at the testimonials on his website under Petty Theft for more information.