Our client, age 42, went into the Macy’s at the Victoria Gardens mall in Rancho Cucamonga. She was recognized by loss prevention officers, allegedly for being suspected of shoplifting weeks earlier, but was not stopped at that time. Now she was back in the store and loss prevention recognized her, so they watched her closely.
As loss prevention suspected, our client was indeed observed placing two handbags in a Macy’s bag, as well as five clothing items. Loss prevention then observed her exit the store, walking past the cash register “check out” area. Our client was stopped about five steps outside the store and taken back into the store’s loss prevention office, where the stolen items were inventoried.
The items were valued at $962.44. Loss prevention accused our client of stealing from Macy’s in the past. Our client responded, explaining that she would send the items to her sister in Nigeria, who would then sell the items to simply survive. In a way, the police report seemed to suggest that our client admitted to stealing regularly from Macy’s, but it did not state this in so many words.
Our client was cited for felony grand theft and released at the store and called Greg Hill & Associates. She explained the facts of the case and her work situation, but that she wanted to become a nurse in the future. She explained that she was a U.S. citizen and had no prior criminal history.
Greg commented that he thought the case would be filed as a misdemeanor, not a felony. Greg further explained that the San Bernardino Superior Court often referred first-time misdemeanor defendants (except in DUI, domestic violence, contempt, violation of restraining orders and misdemeanor sex offenses) to the RISE program, which stood for rehabilitation, intervention, support and education. Greg explained that the program was about six to ten hours long and gave defendants the opportunity to “earn a dismissal” upon successful completion of the program and not violating any law for a period of time like a year or two years.
Greg also explained that the California legislature had recently passed a new law, at Penal Code §§ 1001.95 to 1001.97, permitting judicial diversion wherein a judge would grant pre-plea diversion to a defendant to avoid a conviction and “earn a dismissal” by completing certain terms and conditions as set by the judge, i.e., a class, community service and payment of restitution, if restitution were an issue.
Greg further recommended that the client taken on online theft prevention class and send Greg her proof of completion of the class to take to court at the arraignment to show the prosecutor and the judge to show she took this citation seriously and wanted to make sure she did not steal again.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates and took an online shoplifting prevention course, sending Greg her certificate of completion just a few days later.
Greg then appeared on the client’s behalf at the arraignment in the Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court. The client stayed at work. As Greg expected, the case indeed was brought as a misdemeanor and not a felony.
In discussing the case facts with the prosecuting attorney, Greg showed the prosecutor that our client had enrolled in and completed an online theft prevention class just days after being cited and released. Greg also explained that the incident deeply affected our client, who wanted to one day become a nurse.
The prosecutor then suggested that our client resolve the case by enrolling in the RISE program and completing the class. Greg told the prosecutor he appreciated this opportunity for the client and would recommend that the client accept this way of resolving the case.
The client indeed did sign up for the RISE program, complete it and have her case dismissed.
She was happy with this result, knowing that her dream of becoming a nurse was preserved.
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