I had my arraignment today for being charged with shoplifting a $35 item at Costco. In a nutshell, I was offered a bargain from the DA office to drop my PC 488 misdemeanor to a Petty Theft 490.1 Infraction, which is punishable only by $50 fine. I asked for the offer to remain open to find an attorney and ask some questions, which the judge granted, and set a pretrial conference where the 490.1 infraction bargain would still be available in a few weeks.
I went to the PD office who gave me conflicting views. The PD at the court said that she said the 490.1 infraction, like a traffic ticket, is not a criminal conviction, and therefore my record would be clean so to speak. However, the infraction would still be there, and I'm afraid that it would haunt me, to which the PD at the court said to consult another attorney. The other option would be to go to the pretrial conference (which the PD at the office told me) and ask for a diversion program, which wouldn't show up publically in a criminal record but would show up for government employers that I had completed a diversionary program.
A final option I thought of was to hire an attorney in hopes of getting the charges dismissed all together. However, since they already dropped the charge to an infraction, I'm not sure if this is possible.
What are your thoughts on this? What should I do?
- Charge dropped from Petty Theft 488 to Petty Theft 490.1 infraction, punishable by $50 fine
- Asked for an extension, was granted
- Now must choose between accepting the 490.1, pursuing diversion, or pursuing dismissal by hiring an attorney