Southgate, Security Guard Steals Cellphone, Diversion

Our client was a security guard at a CVS Pharmacy in Southgate.  He had a prior criminal history for theft and drug-related offenses.  He was thirty-five years old and happy to have a job, even if it did not pay too well.

On the evening in question, a young lady drove into the parking lot, parked her car and got out with a friend to go into the CVS.  As she did so, she accidentally dropped her T-Mobile “My Touch” LG cell phone, but did not realize this.
Why This Summary Matters:  Diversion granted on a case with bad facts wherein our client, a security guard no less, is caught stealing a cell phone from a CVS customer.  This case suggests how forgiving a prosecutor can be, this time in Downey Superior Court.
She then went into the CVS and realized she was missing her phone.  She returned to her car and searched the car, thinking she had left it in her car.  She did not find it.  She then retraced her steps and still could not find it.

Finally, she asked her friend to use her phone and call her cell phone.  The phone rang loudly, and the woman looked over toward our client, who allegedly had it in his pocket.  He allegedly then reached down and silenced it quickly.  She then asked our client for her phone and he claimed he did not have anything in his pocket.

The young woman then called the police and our client walked away.  When officers from the Downey Police Department arrived, they confronted our client and found nothing on him.  Police then demanded that CVS play the security camera video for the parking lot area.  It clearly showed our client picking up the phone at issue and putting it in his pocket.

Police then cited our client for petty theft (Penal Code § 484(a)) and told him to sign a promise to appear in court in about four weeks.  They did not arrest him, apparently in deference to his being a security guard and similar to a police officer.

Our client at first failed to go to the Downey Superior Court to his arraignment and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. 

He then came to Greg Hill & Associates, fearful of being arrested on the bench warrant and concerned about a new conviction for theft on his record.  Greg listened to the client explain what had happened.  Greg then described how he hoped to handle the case.  The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates.

Greg Hill quickly went to court to recall the bench warrant and enter a “not guilty” plea on the complaint.  Our client was charged with a single count of violating Penal Code § 484(a), also known as petty theft.  We also received the police report and saw our client, clear as day, taking the cell phone with screen shots taken from the store security video.

Our office then attempted in many ways to contact the victim to try to pay her for the replacement cost of a new phone and to have her sign a declaration that we could submit with a motion for civil compromise under Penal Code § 1378 and 1379 to dismiss the case.  The victim, however, repeatedly avoided our calls and ignored our letters.

Greg then negotiated a delayed entry of judgment plea bargain with the Downey District Attorney wherein our client had to plea to a violation of Penal Code § 484(a), but was not sentenced.  He had to pay a $150 fee to the court, plus penalties and assessments (for a total of about $750), stay away from the CVS at issue and in a year, his plea would be withdrawn and the case dismissed. 

This was an exceptionally good deal based on the evidence, which was irrefutable, and our client’s prior criminal history.  The client was happy because he would avoid a conviction if he stayed out of trouble for a year.

For more information about diversion and petty theft, please click on the following articles:
  1. What Is Shoplifting and Its Defense?
  2. What Is a Motion for Civil Compromise?
  3. What Is Diversion, Delayed Entry of Plea and Deferred Entry of Judgment?
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