What to do if I got caught shoplifting about $14 worth of merchandise from a store a few weeks ago

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What to do if I got caught shoplifting about $14 worth of merchandise from a store a few weeks ago

I was told this is a petty misdemeanor and I was given a court date for later this month. This was my first offense, I have an otherwise completely clean record. I realize it was a stupid mistake and I have learned a hard lesson and will never do it again. I was wondering if there was any way I could get the charge dropped, since I don’t want my future employment affected for the rest of my life. I have read that there are several things you can do to get the charge deferred or something like that.

Asked on January 6, 2013 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that shoplifting is a criminal offense, so you should have legal representation in this matter. An experienced attorney might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality, etc. Since you are a first-time offender, they may also be able to arrange for "diversion" (or your state's equivalent). This is an alternative sentencing program whereby a defendent pleads guilty to the charge, receives a special probation, and upon successful completion of probation the charge is withdrawn and the case dismissed. Additionally, your record should be automatically cleared. However, diversion is typically only allowed for a first offense. This means that if you get into trouble again it will not be available to you. That's why if you get a lawyer who can get the charge dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future if you should ever need it.


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