I’m Facing Petit Larceny Charges in Nevada – What Should I Expect?
I’m Facing Petit Larceny Charges in Nevada – What Should I Expect?
So you’re facing petit larceny charges in Nevada? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Petty theft charges are actually pretty common in the Silver State. But that doesn’t mean you should just accept them lying down. There are things you can do to fight the charges and protect yourself. This article will walk you through exactly what to expect if you’re facing petit larceny accusations in Nevada, and what your options are.
What is Petit Larceny in Nevada?
First things first – let’s define petit larceny. Essentially, it’s a fancy legal term for minor theft. According to Nevada law, petit larceny is when someone intentionally steals property that’s worth less than $1,200. Common examples are shoplifting, stealing items from a hotel room, or taking someone’s pet dog or cat.
Petit larceny is a misdemeanor offense in Nevada. That means it’s considered less serious than a felony crime. But don’t let that fool you – misdemeanors can still carry stiff penalties like fines and jail time.
What are the Penalties for Petit Larceny in Nevada?
If you’re convicted of petit larceny in Nevada, here’s what you could be facing:
- Up to 6 months in jail – The maximum jail sentence for a petit larceny conviction is 6 months. Whether you actually get jail time depends on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history.
- Fines up to $1,000 – The court can hit you with fines of up to $1,000 for a petit larceny conviction. And don’t forget – you’ll likely have to pay restitution to repay the victim for what you stole.
- Restitution – The court will order you to pay back the victim for whatever you stole as part of your sentence. For example, if you shoplifted a $500 TV, you’d probably have to repay the store $500.
- Probation – Many first-time offenders get probation rather than jail. But violate the terms and you could end up behind bars.
So those are the basics of what you’ll be facing if convicted. But there are ways you may be able to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. More on that next.
How Can I Get the Charges Dismissed?
Getting your petit larceny charges dropped completely is possible in some cases. Here are some of the most common ways it happens:
- Complete a diversion program – Many Nevada courts will agree to dismiss petty theft charges if you complete a “diversion” program, like Las Vegas’s Petit Larceny Program. These involve classes and counseling.
- Pay restitution – If you pay back the victim for what you allegedly stole, the prosecutor may agree to drop the charges.
- Show proof of ownership – If you can prove you actually owned the property in question, the charges will likely be tossed out.
- Lack of evidence – Weak evidence could lead to a dismissal. An experienced lawyer can find the holes in the prosecution’s case.
So those are some of the main ways your lawyer can get your charges dropped completely. But even if the case continues, there are ways to reduce the penalties you’re facing.
How Can I Get the Charges Reduced?
If getting the charges dismissed entirely isn’t in the cards, often your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to get them reduced to a less serious offense. Here are some possibilities:
- Reduce to a non-criminal violation – You may be able to get the charges knocked down to a civil infraction rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
- Lesser included offense – Your lawyer could try to get you convicted of a less serious type of theft rather than petit larceny.
- Plea bargain – Plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence recommendation from the DA.
So in summary – getting the charges lowered or dismissed completely is very possible with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Don’t just accept the charges as they stand. Fight back.
What are Some Common Defenses?
When building your defense strategy, your attorney will look for every viable argument to get your charges dropped or reduced. Some common defenses in petty theft cases include:
- You didn’t intend to steal – If it was just an honest mistake or misunderstanding, this could invalidate the charges since intent is a required element.
- False accusations – The “victim” is lying about you stealing anything.
- Mistaken identity – You didn’t do it, someone else did. Eyewitnesses are often wrong.
- Unlawful search – If the police violated your rights by searching you illegally, evidence may be suppressed.
- You had permission – You had the owner’s consent to take the property.
- Lack of ownership – The alleged victim doesn’t actually own what you supposedly stole.
- Necessity – You only took it because you had an urgent need to.
So in the right circumstances, a variety of defenses are possible. An attorney experienced with theft crimes will know how to craft the best defense for your unique situation.
What Happens at Arraignment?
The arraignment will be your first court appearance after being arrested and charged. At the arraignment:
- You’ll be formally notified of the charges against you
- You’ll enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest
- Bail will be set or reviewed if you’re in jail
- A trial date may be scheduled
Arraignments are usually quick, simple hearings. But it’s still vital to have a lawyer with you to advise you and protect your rights. Entering the wrong plea by accident could really come back to haunt you.
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
After thoroughly examining your case and possible defenses, your attorney may advise you to accept a plea bargain rather than risk going to trial. Here are some pros of taking a deal:
- Avoid harsher penalties if convicted at trial
- Quick resolution so you can move on
- Potential for a lighter sentence
- Certain outcome vs. uncertainty of trial
Of course there are cons as well, like having a criminal conviction on your record. Your lawyer will weigh all the factors and help you make the best choice. Don’t rush into any plea deal without their guidance.
What Should I Do if I’m Arrested?
If you’re arrested for petit larceny in Nevada, here are some key tips:
- Remain silent – Don’t answer police questions or try to explain yourself. That can only hurt your case.
- Hire a lawyer ASAP – Immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney to start building your defense.
- Don’t resist officers – As difficult as it is, don’t physically resist arrest even if you feel it’s unjustified.
- Check bail options – If jailed, discuss bail and bond with your lawyer to get released pre-trial.
- Gather evidence – Write down names of witnesses and details while fresh in your mind. Help your lawyer reconstruct the events.
- Watch what you say – Anything you say or post online can and will be used against you.
So in summary, exercise your right to remain silent, get a lawyer on your side, and listen to their advice every step of the way.
Will a Petit Larceny Conviction Go on My Record?
Unfortunately, yes – a petit larceny conviction will show up on your criminal record in Nevada. It will be public record that anyone can find, including employers doing background checks.
But the good news is you can get your record sealed to hide past convictions from public view after a certain period of time. For petit larceny, you’ll have to wait 1 year after completing your sentence to seal the case in Nevada. An attorney can handle the sealing process for you.
Being arrested for petit larceny can be scary, but it’s not the end of the world. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer guiding you, there are many ways to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t take any chances – call a lawyer immediately for help fighting the accusations. The sooner you start building your defense case, the better. You can get through this!