Petty theft with a prior theft conviction (Penal Code 666) makes it possible for a person who commits the crime of petty theft to be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor if the accused had previously been convicted of a theft-related crime at any time in the past.
Though this law has been on the books in California since 1872, its existence took on new importance after the state's voters approved a three strikes law in 1994. In certain cases, a person with two prior felony convictions has been charged with a third felony for committing a minor shoplifting crime.
If one of the two previous felony charges had involved stealing in any manner then the shoplifting conviction, thus upgraded to a felony, would result in a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison under the threestrikes law.
This crime is aggressively prosecuted in California since retailers lose millions of dollars to shoplifters in this state and some thieves are very organized operating usually from other countries.
State prison will be the first offer from the prosecutor in most cases. We never accept first offers and will fight for you to get probation or community service if we cannot get the case dismissed.