If I was caught shoplifting $40 of merchandise and am not planning on getting a lawyer, should I plea guilty or not guilty?

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If I was caught shoplifting $40 of merchandise and am not planning on getting a lawyer, should I plea guilty or not guilty?

I’m 20 years old. It’s my first (and last) criminal offense, so I assume I will receive a fine. I don’t want to enter “not guilty” and have the trial continue, should I just take whatever they offer? Especially since I’m obviously guilty and am caught on camera.

Asked on August 30, 2012 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, I suggest that you consult with a criminal defense attorney about the theft charge you are facing for the simple reason that it is a misdemeanor and if convicted of the offense it can have a detrimental impact upon you for school and a future job. If you cannot afford a private attorney, ask for the appointment of the public defender.

I suggest that you plead "not guilty" and ask later on if you qualify for the court's diversion program. If so, and you satisfy its terms by paying a fine, doing community service work and staying out of trouble, the criminal charge may be dismissed and you would not have a criminal conviction.


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