What can I expect at court for a first offense misdemeanor for shoplifting?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2011

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What can I expect at court for a first offense misdemeanor for shoplifting?

My friend and I were caught shoplifting. We got caught by undercover security. Apparently he saw everything and the value turned out to $150; it got split in half so $75 each. We complied with the security but they still called the cops because the value was over the limit. When the officer came we complied with him and he gave us a ticket for a misdemeanor and we have a court date coming soon. It’s our first offense; we have never been in trouble before. We told the officer we were guilty. Should we plea guilty or not guilty are the court?

Asked on January 5, 2011 under Criminal Law, California


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

As you are aware, shoplifting is a criminal offense.  Accordingly you should without have legal representation in this matter.  An experienced attorney might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality or possibly at least get it reduced.  Since you are a first-time offender, they may also be able to arrange for "diversion" which is an alternative sentencing program whereby you plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation, and upon successful completion of your probation the charge is withdrawn and the case dismissed.  Your record should be automatically cleared.

However, diversion is typically only allowed for a first offense; if you again get into trouble it will not be available to you.  That's why if you get an attorney who gets the charge dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future if you should ever need it.

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