Is it possible that I can serve jail time for petty theft if the amount in question was less than $10?

UPDATED: May 26, 2011

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Is it possible that I can serve jail time for petty theft if the amount in question was less than $10?

My boyfriend was caught on tape stealing from a store. They searched my purse and found some merchandise in my purse that only amounted to about $10. But I wasn’t seen doing anything they only found it in my purse. Can the charges be dropped?

Asked on May 26, 2011 under Criminal Law, Ohio


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Usually this small amount is considered petty theft but petty theft is different in each state. It doesn't matter if they didn't see you do it, consider the fact that you had it in your purse, there probably wasn't a receipt and your boyfriend was caught. If the store had a security camera, it could use the footage (surveillance video) as evidence in your case. Further, if you are charged, it could be minimal jail time if any, a fine, restitution and the like. Consider (if this is your first offense ever) speaking with a criminal defense attorney and discuss all the facts and see if he or she can either get the charges dropped or plea out or even an alternative conviction wherein if you stay out of trouble for a certain amount of time or you do community service, the charges would be dismissed as if you were never charged in the first place. Then, you can start the process of attempting to get the history (arrest, etc) expunged or sealed so it doesn't show up in a background check.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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