'Petty Theft' and its impact on Employment / Immigration / G.C. processing.


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Recently i was caught under 'Petty Theft' for a worth of 20$ item. I'm working with a a criminal defense lawyer at my location to handle my case. But have couple of open questions in my mind, 

1) As per my lawyer this case can go 90% - 95% as 'infraction'. I was cited with california pc 490.5. Any idea how far it can be true?


2) Based on forum search i have found that the case can be moved to diversion program / can be dismissed? Whats the difference in infraction / diversion / dismissed cases? 

3) I'm currently working as full time employee alien with work permit, my company attorneys has recently filed my H1B extension and GC I-140 petition. At this stage i'm  planning to reach out to outside immigration lawyer because my H1B extension & my GC I-140 are in progress ? I'm much worried about these now. Any suggestion / things to be clarified with immigration lawyer.


4) How this is going to impact my current employment and any consequences that I'm going to face in near future, any suggestions to reduce the impact? 


5) Any checklist / key items that I need to discuss with Criminal Defense Lawyer & Immigration lawyer that can save me from future consequences.


Appreciate your help & support. 

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1. It may. Depends on the DA/CA,your criminal history and the ability of your lawyer,etc. If this is your only charge it may get reduced to something not severe. It depends on a lot of factors. No one could tell. 


2. No idea about all those. Usually infractions are less severe than felony and misdemeanor. 


3. You didn't mention if you were arrested. It's unlikely that it affects your pending H-1B and I-140. Things are different for filling up DS-160 and filing I-1485. Check with your immigration lawyer what happens during those stages for your specific case.


4. For immigration stand point, I don't think anything can be done. Immigration sees all your records irrespective of the severity. It may/may not be a problem for your present/future employment depending on conviction. If you were arrested you may have to tell your future employer about it up front. If not, it will pop up during background check. Remember, not all employers will do background check. 


5. Always try to plead for less severe section such as infraction. I don't know much about diversion program. 


Theft falls under CIMT section of immigration and considered worst for immigration. Try to avoid getting convicted under any section that falls under CIMT. 


Above are only guidelines. Discuss your specific case with criminal defense/immigration lawyers. 

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Theft is a CIMT, a "crime involving moral turpitude."

This can really screw up your immigration.

And quite frankly, while I have some sympathy for people who steal groceries because they are unemployed and out of money, on H1, you earn more than most Americans. Why in the world were you stealing??? There really is no excuse in your case.

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Andy - Thank you for your valuable suggestions.


JoeF - Thanks for your response. I didn't ask to point out what i did and i know what i have done. When someone involved in an accident that doesn't mean he/she did it intentionally or its their hobby. At that point in time they might be out of mind and it could have happened. That doesn't mean he is a bad driver or he do it for fun all the time. Probably you are not aware there are great leaders in the world who did blunders and realized what they have done and now they are called 'great leaders'.

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Here's what I have to tell you:

1) It could go to infraction. Benefit: As long as you are in the US the background check will show infraction which will be very helpful. For immigration the charge for which you were arrested is what is counted. They will not take only the courts disposition and consider it an infraction

2) Diversion/reduction in charge to infraction/pre trial diversion/ suspended sentence/ Deferred prosecution: Every state probably has their own term for it. They all mean the same - you committed the crime. This is not what you want.

3) 4) and 5) Theft is a CIMT. But can be let go as a petty offense. However, for employers this is a RED flag. Employers take theft very very seriously. This will impact your future employment and current as well depending on what policies your employer has. Read your HR policy. They might have something about arrests, charges, convictions. Find a lawyer, tell him that block the case before it gets filed and before you are charged. If he says he can't interview another one until you find one. Ignore the fees part. You need the best of best here. Apart from handling of case discuss the HR policy with him/her. You should notify HR instead they finding out - they will if you are getting promoted or something. It also depends how big your employer is. Big companies perform these checks periodically and during promotions. Your attorney can draft/craft a letter so that you don't your employment does not have adverse impact. I repeat you cannot afford a conviction here.


I don't know when this happened but you need to rush before the prosecutor files charges against you. Remember it has all to do with the prosecutor not the police or anyone else. Your lawyer should not let the prosecutor charge you. Any plea bargain - reduction of charge etc means you plead guilty - DO NOT DO THIS.

Upto here is for your life in US.


Now for immigration its a completely different ball game. Your arrest will count - not what happened after it. Eg. you could (will) be asked the immi officer: did you do this? what happened? you should not incriminate yourself here. You have a right to remain silent. For immi: if the officer has a "reason to believe" that you committed the crime - they will hold it against you. Read the laws on USCIS.. this "reason to believe" is a  dangerous thing. You should also read your police report. If the report is written in such a way that a layman can believe you committed the crime then it will be held.


Now, everyone has different experiences. That is why I am here to know from people as to what happened. Some are lucky. Some get denials. Some cases are kept on hold for a long long time without a result. There will be questioning on this for every visa/GC interview and POE. Also, this remains on record for immigration purposes forever. Again it is painful to hear that but yes, if there is an arrest we have to say there was an arrest for the rest of our lives. And there will be questions on that.


Good Luck. Let me know if have questions. I can help.

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Don't worry about mean and rude comments here. There are few people in this forum who simply judge others without knowing exact details. Most of the time, their answers are not relevant and helpful to the suggestion seekers. Don't worry about their comments and don't bother replying them. It's plain useless and waste of time. Period.  


Things do happen in life and I understand that. I for one don't rush into judgement on anyone. Hire the professionals to handle your case and move on with your life. I hope your case is reduced to a less severe infraction. Good luck!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

For immigration, You could get away as a onetime petty offense. But problem could be with your enployment as for i485, if I remember it correctly, there is a question for criminal history or arrests. At this stage, your employer could come to know about this. Hope they will consider the case as a dismissed one and ignore it. All depends on each employer. Hopefully it will go smoothly. Stay away from any problems in the future. Good luck.

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  • 1 month later...


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