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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27196
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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I was just arrested for 3rd degree retail theft. I want to

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I was just arrested for 3rd degree retail theft. I want to know what's going to happen to me and the chances of me being convicted with a misdemeanor? I was shopping around at Walmart buying things that I needed. I saw a pair of underwear that I liked but I didn't enjoy the pink tye dye on one of them. I was dissapointed so I was about to reconcile with myself and figure out if I still wanted them. My friend said that we could just switch them so that I could have two white. I didn't do any of the switching or price tag removal. She gave them back to me I put them in the cart and I paid for the pair of underwear as well as my other purchases. As soon as we passed the sensor a security guard asked us to come with them. It's no excuse and I am taking full responsibility but I didn't know that it was such a problem to do the switching. My friend was very uncooperative about the whole thing and she didn't have her id on her so that's when the police were called. I'm very wary about what I should do. I've never had a previous criminal record and I don't ever want to have one.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 years ago.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

Unfortunately, you are not eligible for HYTA if you reached your 21st birthday before you were arrested. However, if this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program. What that means is that, if you agree to plead guilty and serve probation for a specified time period (usually one year), repay the store and pay fines, after the probation period ends, the judge will dismiss the charges. This is very common for a first-time shoplifting offense.

When you go to the initial court appearance, if you cannot afford a lawyer, the judge should appoint one for your at no charge. He'll be able to review the evidence and try to negotiate the best possible deal for you. Usually, at the first appearance, all you have to do is plead not guilty and request a lawyer.

Good luck.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So now that I'm going to court there's no way I can even get out of community service? I figured that's what was going to happen if I wasn't convicted but a year is a really long time and I was planning on moving to Seattle, Washington early next year. I'm assuming it won't matter if I didn't know that was considered shoplifting, but do you think they will prosecute me if I wasn't the one actually switching the items? All I did was take them from her and purchase them.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
They can usually transfer your probation, if the county in Washington is willing to accept the case. That shouldn't be an issue.

If you were ordered to do community service, that would still be part of a conviction - the judge can't order someone to community service outside a conviction or diversion program. You'll be able to talk to your lawyer or the DA about the specific terms and conditions.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter that you just helped your friend without doing the actual switching, because an accomplice to a crime is considered by law as guilty as the principal actor (and the punishment is the same). You're right that it doesn't matter that you didn't know that tag switching was considered shop-lifting. I'm sorry.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for help. I've been saying for years to never judge someone that has been arrested or has a criminal history, and now I'm on that side of the fence, hoping that people still feel the same. I keep thinking that this isn't me, this isn't who I am. I know I'll get through it. You told me what I needed to hear. I just have a couple more questions. If the item total was $11.00 how much will the fines be? They're charging us for both pairs that were manipulated and they were $5.63 each I believe.
During that probationary period what will it say on my record? And, do I need to inform jobs that I'm on probation?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
The maximum fine is $500 or three times the value of the merchandise, whichever is more. Also, if you were convicted, the maximum penalty is 93 days in jail, so you would likely be able to get a deferred sentence or do community service or something like that. For a first offense, you can usually negotiate a fine less than the maximum.

You don't need to tell a job that you're on probation unless they ask. Sometimes, they ask about convictions, but if you're doing a deferred prosecution program, you haven't been "convicted."
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