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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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my daughter was charged with petty theft in the state of fl

Resolved Question:

my daughter was charged with petty theft in the state of fl at the age of 17 -- do I need to hire a lawyer?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 6 years ago.
Your daughter should at least consult with a lawyer as a conviction can result in her having a possible criminal record.

Petty theft can be charged as a first degree or second degree misdemeanor. If the property stolen is valued between $100 and $299, then she will be charged with a 1st Degree Misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine. If the property stolen is valued at less than $100, then she will be charged with a 2nd Degree Misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

While it's unlikely she would get jail time for a petty offense (probation and a fine is more likely), a person should always talk to a lawyer to go over the case as there may be defenses to the charges or because the attorney may be able to negotiate a plea with the prosecutor.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Is there a possibility that trying to have a lawyer negotiate would lead to a worse result than if we just go in by ourselves to the court date?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 6 years ago.
Anything is possible, but also highly unlikely. In my experience, having a lawyer in a criminal matter can only help. State attorneys expect negotiations to take place. That being said, I understand this is a minor misdemeanor -if you daughter simply intends to plea to the judge and let them decide punishment, she can do that. Especially if this is a first offense, the court isn't going to "throw the book at her" so to speak.
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