As a general rule, if this is your first contact with the criminal justice
system, unless there are very unusual circumstances here, the standard plea offer if you don't want to take this case to trial
would involve a sentence
of probation, along with restitution to the store. In Arizona, it the value of the goods is under $1,000, the case against you would be a misdemeanor
. The lower the amount of value you took, the better the chance that you may also even be able to walk away from this without incurring a criminal record
, whereby your case could be dismissed after the successful completion of the terms of your probation.
The best way to protect yourself is to know what all your rights and choices are so that you can make intelligent and informed decisions on your behalf. Criminal cases can have lifetime consequences. That means you should hire a criminal lawyer and have him with you at your arraignment (first court date). Your lawyer is the only person in the criminal justice system whose sole duty it is to safeguard your rights. The judge and proscutor have a different agenda. Do not try to take care of this without counself. If you can't afford a lawyer, plead not guilty at your arraignments (all defendants start off as not guilty under US law, so even if you know that you did this, you are legally allowed to plead not guilty) and then ask the judge to appoint you a public defense lawyer.
Edited by FranL on 2/2/2011 at 3:59 AM EST