July 9, 2021 By Paul Wallin

Restitution Key to Getting Misdemeanor Plea Deal in Felony Grand Theft Case

Negotiating favorable plea deals is an artform. The defense attorney must balance the interests and desires of their client while navigating the realities of the facts of the case and the evidence at hand. Each type of criminal offense has a specific strategy a defense attorney must utilize to obtain the best possible plea deal. For example, we recently obtained an amazing plea deal to resolve a felony grand theft case out of Los Angeles County. In exchange for a plea of no-contest, our client received a misdemeanor and was sentenced to 1 year of summary probation and community service.

Despite being charged with felony grand theft and facing possible prison time, our client received a misdemeanor and community service only with absolutely no jail time. The two biggest reasons why we were able to obtain that result was that we crafted a stellar mitigation packet for our client, and we were able to offer full restitution upfront in exchange for a misdemeanor. This article will only speak to the restitution aspect. Look out for an article on mitigation packets coming soon.

The reason restitution is so important in negotiating favorable plea deals in felony grand theft cases is because, while one of the purposes of the criminal court system is to punish those convicted of a crime, another competing purpose of the criminal court system is to make “victims whole” or, in another word, undo the harm suffered by the victim as much as possible. When it comes to theft cases like grand theft, making the “victim whole” usually always comes down to paying the victim back the money they lost. Even better, if they can pay them back in full all at once.

Judges and prosecutors have a huge incentive to offer favorable plea deals to defendants charged with grand theft who have the means to pay restitution in full, in that they are able to make the “victim whole” and undo the harm they suffered. Even if a client does not have the financial ability to pay the full restation amount at the beginning of a case, we have in many cases been able to get clients up to a year of time to save up and pay full restitution in exchange for a misdemeanor.

Penal Code Section 487: Wobblers

The reason why a defendant is even able to get a misdemeanor plea deal in a felony grand theft case is that, under California law, a violation of Penal Code Section 487, grand theft, is what is known as a “wobbler.” A wobbler is an offense that the prosecutor may charge as a felony or a misdemeanor.[1] That decision usually depends on the type and value of the property stolen and the defendant’s criminal history.  

If convicted of California misdemeanor grand theft, you face any or all of the following:

  •     Informal probation
  •     Up to 1 year in county jail
  •     A fine of up to $1,000

If convicted of California felony grand theft, you face any or all of the following:

  •     Formal probation 
  •     Up to 3 years in county jail
  •     A fine of up to $10,000

Since Grand Theft is a wobbler, both the Judge and the Prosecutor can offer you a plea deal to a misdemeanor. Therefore, if the prosecutor says no to a misdemeanor, the defense attorney can still ask the Judge and, under Penal Code Section 17b, the Judge can offer a misdemeanor plea deal, even over the objection of the Prosecutor’s Office. That is exactly how we got the misdemeanor deal described above at the beginning of the article, by asking the Judge after a no from the Prosecutor. 

Contact a Theft Crimes Attorney at Wallin and Klarich

Our California theft crimes defense attorneys have a long track record of success in theft cases. Without an experienced and aggressive attorney fighting for you, your conviction could result in the loss of your freedom and the destruction of your future. If you’ve been charged with theft in California, time is of the essence! Every minute you wait matters, so call Wallin and Klarich today.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney to help you no matter where you are located. 

Call our law firm at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 587-5954 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call. 

 We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you or your loved ones. 

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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