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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16519
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I got caught by Century 21 for switching tagprices and stealing

Customer Question

I got caught by Century 21 for switching tagprices and stealing shoes in total of $500 yesterday. I was pulled over by police and was released after two hours of paper works, finger printing and picture in police station in Manhattan. I was cooperative with century 21 securities and police officers. Since this was my first offence, I was received a Desk Appearance Ticket to be shown on the court in 3 weeks from now.

Top offense charged is PL 155.25. No cash bail was required for me. Police said that all i need to do is to pay for fine in the court.

Here is my situation. I am international students from southkorea studying in Accounting for master's degree at Binghamton University.

I asked around some criminal defense attornies and they called $1500 to $2000 for fee. And they did not even promise to get ACD for me to get rid of record.

Do I really need to hire Private lawyer for this for just find an appointed lawyer in the court. Please, help me in the Cost & Benefit perspective.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
Hello,

Petit Larceny (PL 155.25) is an A misdemeanor which carries a possible penalty of a year in jail. And although if it's your first offense, you will not have to worry about jail, a theft offense is a crime of moral turpitude. If you are an international student who wants to finish your education here and be able to leave the country and return while you finish your studies, you should make sure you are represented by counsel for this matter and that he knows you are here on a student visa. The consequences for you are not the same as for a US citizen.

If you are a full-time student and are not employed, you can ask the judge to appoint you a public defense attorney and you will almost certainly be found eligible for free representation. I don't think you'll need a private attorney, but I don't think you'll necessarily be offered an ACD either. So if you're not going to hire an attorney just make sure you plead NOT GUILTY at your arraignment (first court date) and ask the judge for a court-appointed free lawyer. Do not plead guilty unless/until you have at hand a deal that will not hurt your immigration status.

___________
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 Atate for specific legal advice.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I was so worried about the value of the stuff that i tried to still. Since it is around $500, I have been afraid of getting more severe punishment from court. It this amount is not that huge to be worried extremely, than it make me to be easy on this issue.

You are advising me that there will be no big difference between private lawer and appointed public lawer since it is my first offence. Am I right? My additional question is how much will be the approximate amount of fine for this?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
Jacustomer,

Public defenders practice only criminal law, which makes them specialists with a lot of experience. Private lawyers practice civil law as well as criminal. Public defenders are busy and in that sense, they practice no-frills law. They can be tough to reach on the phone, as they are always in court. But because they are always in court all day, every day, they know all of the judges,all of the prosecutors and all of the court personnel. That can be an advantage when what you're looking for is a good deal on a plea agreement. On the other hand, when you hire a private lawyer, you can shop around and pick someone you're confident in. When the court gives you a public defender, you get whoever is on the top of the list, so to speak, on that day. Maybe you'll like him. Maybe you won't. There's a right to a free lawyer, but not to the free lawyer of your choice.

I can't say what your fine -- if any -- will be because I have no idea what you'll be offered as a plea bargain. There are options other than jail or fine that could be coming your way, such as probation with community service and restitution and there's no point in my guessing at fine levels.

I can say that with a first offense of this sort, if you make your court appearances, you will not have to worry about jail. That should take some of the pressure off of your mind. Just make sure that your lawyer has a handle on your immigration consequences before you agree to take any plea offer.

___________
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 Atate for specific legal advice.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Your sincere answer has really helped me to get a huge anxiety off in my mind and to decide how to handle this problem. However, I am still worried about the quality of lawyer. As you are already aware of, It is the most important to get rid of criminal record for my future.

I already talked to some lawyers, and one said that judge normally gives ACD if the age is such a old like me. Is this really true?

Would you please recommend some good lawyer in manhattan for me? I heard that Jewish lawyer get their jobs done well. If you have some connection, please help me out. I am so desperate.

Thanks.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
JACUSTOMER,

You are a student, and the DA would probably make you an offer that would allow you to avoid a criminal record. You may or may not get offered an ACD, because while $500 is still in the misdemeanor category it's a decent amount of property value. I think it more likely that you'll be offered a disorderly conduct, which would be a violation but not a crime. (The criminal court equivalent of a traffic ticket). An ACD would be better for your purposes, however, and it would not be unreasonable for your lawyer to ask for it or for the judge to grant it.

We are not allowed to specifically recommend any lawyers by name to our customers. It's against JustAnswer's terms of service. But if you don't know where to start looking for a criminal lawyer, I can recommend the New York State Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. They offer a referral to a criminal lawyer for a very inexpensive one-time half hour consultation. They prescreen all of their attorneys and guarantee you'll be referred to a member of the bar in good standing. If you are pleased with the attorney, you can retain him for your case, but if you're unhappy with him, you are not required to use his services again. I have linked you to his site.

I understand that you are worried about this, but it should come out okay for you.
Good luck!

___________
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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