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

UPDATED: Jan 6, 2013

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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


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

Answered 10 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pleads guilty to the charge, receives a special probation, and upon successful completion of probation the charge is withdrawn and the case dismissed.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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