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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25543
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Topic Petit Larceny. I was just cited for Petit Larceny in

Customer Question

Topic: Petit Larceny. I was just cited for Petit Larceny in Reno, Nevada. Bail amount is $355. Value of the shoplifted item was $15. This is a first offense, and I have a clean record with no prior arrests or convictions of any kind. My initial court appearance date is next month, and I am willing to pay whatever fine the court imposes. My goal is to not have this appear on a permanant record. How should I plea, or what is the best course of action to take? Thanks.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
Customer

Unless you are offered a opportunity for a diversion program or can get the charge bargained down to something that is only an infraction rather than a misdemeanor theft offense, any plea other than "not guilty" will give you a permanent record.

The odds are very high that with this kind of an offense on a $15 that you can come out of this without a record. However, to make sure you know what you're doing and to have all of your concerns addressed before you do or say anything on the court record that you will be unable to take back, it would be a good idea to retain a criminal lawyer to do the negotiating for you.

If you are unable to afford one, you can plead not guilty and tell the judge you are without the funds to secure representation. Ask him to appoint you a public defense lawyer and get yourself properly advised so that you can be sure of the best way to proceed. You can always take your not guilty plea back if you get a deal you want. But once you plead guilty, it's almost impossible to get your plea back if you change your mind.

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This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your state for specific legal advice.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Is it possible to meet with the prosecutor myself without an attorney, prior to the court date, to "bargain down" the offense to an infraction. Also, what specific "infraction" would be applicable? Thanks!
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
Customer

It is certainly possible to meet with the prosecutor and try to do your own bargaining. The only problem is that by doing it yourself, if you don't get the deal you want from the DA, you have already essentially confessed to the crime. Any time you give up the right to remain silent you can hurt yourself if it doesn't go the way you want it to. On the other hand, a lawyer can speak to the DA before even knowing whether you'd be interested in taking it just to find out what offer is on the table.

In my state something like this would be bargained down to disorderly conduct, which over here is only a violation. I have just looked it up, and where you are, that's a misdemeanor and wouldn't help you. However, Nevada petty larceny law would allow for a suspended sentence which would keep this off your record. There would likely involve a fine, restitution, community service and possibly an anti-theft program as well as a brief period of unsupervised (usually) probation.

I always recommend a lawyer because there's an absolute right to an attorney and the right is there for a reason. You don't want a theft offense on your permanent record if you can at all avoid it. It is exactly the kind of an offense that prospective employers shy far away from, even when it's a misdemeanor.

_____

If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your state for specific legal advice.

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