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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17390
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I just got charged with concealment of an item under $50. I

Customer Question

I just got charged with concealment of an item under $50. I had the money to pay and told detective I had put it in my purse which was in the shopping cart to keep item from breaking and had intended to pay for item. I have no criminal background - only a charge for serving to a minor during a ABC Sting. What are the consequences?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

This charge is a misdemeanor. I don't know what state you live in (I'm guessing from the name of the offense, North Carolina) but as a general rule, with a first shoplitting charge there are special programs available which will allow a defendant to dispose of his case and come out of it without a criminal record These are special forms of probation that generally include a fine, some community service, an anti-theft class and a period of supervision by the Department of Probation. Comply with all of your sentence requirements, and the judge will then dismiss all of your charges. So essentially, it's an opportunity to work off the conviction to keep your record clean.

They do not have to offer you a diversion or a deferral option. (the names of such programs) and because of the fact that you have a previous charge, it or some other disposition such as a reduction to a civil offense if possible, may have to be negotiated for. Your worst case scenario is probably going to be a plea to the charge and a fine.

You can, of course, choose not to take any plea at all, although the defense that you put the item in your purse for safekeeping is one that the judge likely hears a dozen times or more per week. Even if it is true, unfortunately it may be hard for the trier of fact to believe it.

Jail time is possible on a misdemeanor and while it is completely unlikely, you have rights you need to protect. If you can afford a lawyer, you should have one with you on your first date to see if he can get you out of this mess without a record if at all possible. Otherwise, if you cannot afford to retain one, you should plead NOT guilty when the court reads out your charges and asks you how you plead.. That's what all defendants are supposed to do the first time they are asked, because it's the only plea that keeps all of their rights open. Anything else results in a conviction. After you plead not guilty, you can tell the judge that you are unable to afford to retain a private attorney and ask him for a public defender.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I should have told you I am in the state of Virginia. Also am concerned if my employer will find out as I do not want to loose my job.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jacustomer,

Thanks for the additional information. It really doesn't change the picture. This would be a misdemeanor but Virginia does offer several types of diversion programs. These are agreements that you will get a dismissal if you hold up your end of the bargain your lawyer strikes with the prosecutor. Usually these programs involve what I have already explained above. In some forms of diversion, you would not even have to plead guilty to the offense. There's also an SIS in Virginia (Suspended Imposition of Sentence) in which you do have to take a plea to the charge but the conviction would never be filed if you complete the program successfully, so you would not have a conviction on your record.

I would see no reason for the court to notify your employer of your charges. It's not generally done. And obviously if one of the diversion programs could be negotiated for you, then you would not have a conviction on your background history. And of course, sometimes a lawyer can manage to get a case dismissed outright or reduced to a civil infraction and a fine. It all depends on the facts and circumstances and how strongly the prosecutor feels about the case.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much you really eased my mind

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Very pleased that I could help.

Good luck with your case.

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Zoey_ JD
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Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.