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Section 488 of the Penal Code(petty theft/Shoplift)

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state?California
I’m 26 years old, I’ve been here in the U.S. for 4 years under granted asylum status. In august I got caught for shoplifting this is my first time to do something like this. Two days ago I got a bill from the store LP for $200 the item was $3.46. I paid the whole $200 by credit card. Today I received a PETTY THEFT NOTICE TO APPEAR, CITATION and a letter from the county sheriff’s department both the letter and the citation has my first name spelled wrong! But the middle and last name is spelled right.

The letter says: A complaint will be filed in the Municipal court charging you with a violation of section 488 of the penal code (petty theft/Shoplift). And I have to appear in the court.

On the back of the citation they want me to go and have my finger prints and a photograph. And there’s a check mark on “Misdemeanor within 14 to 28 days”

I don’t know what to do, is this going on my record? Will it affect my application for the green card? Is it going to my record? What can I do to keep this from going to my record? And if it did go on my record, is there’s a way I can clean it? Am I criminal? 

Please help me
Your prompt action and response will be highly appreciated


Senior Member
If convicted, this will go on your criminal history. legally it CAN effect your ability to get a "green card" ... realistically, it probably will not - unless there are other problems with your immigration status already.

You may be eligible for diversion. When you attend your arraignment, if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you. Speak to your attorney about deferral programs which will keep this off your record.

- Carl

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