First time theft, what do I do now?

UPDATED: Jul 28, 2011

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First time theft, what do I do now?

I was caught stealing $7 worth of merchandise. It is my first and only offense. I have a court date in 2 weeks and I don’t really know what to expect from the judge and the prosecuting lawyers. What am I supposed to plead? I am guilty, but I don’t want to just accept theft on my record. I really want to try and dumb down my sentence so I can continue on with my life and get past this one time stupid mistake that I have made.

Asked on July 28, 2011 Minnesota


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, shoplifting is a criminal offense so you should have legal representation in this matter. in MN this is a misdemeanor. Experienced legal counsel might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality.  Also, since you have never been in trouble with the law before, a criminal law attorney may also be able to arrange for something known in most states as "diversion". This is an alternative sentencing program for first time offenders. With such a program, you plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation, and upon its successful completion the plea is withdrawn and the case dismissed.  As part of this your criminal record would be automatically be cleared. 

Note:  Diversion is only given to first-time offenders.  Therefore if you get into trouble again, it will not be available for you regarding any subsequent charge.  Therefore if you get an attorney to represent you and they are able to get the charge dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future you should ever need it.

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