Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Hello, I was charged with a first degree petty theft of under $190. My court date should be soon, I am expecting the letter which lets me know the exact date. They caught me at Sears taking shirts, which is the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life. I am a junior at Florida International University and with a steady job. I have no previous record nor any traffic tickets. I have read that first degree petty theft get 1 year in prison and a $1000 fine. I am extremely scared and nervous about the whole situation. I need advice as to what I should plead in court and what I might be facing. Help me please, I can't stand knowing that this could forever stay on my record. I would appreciate any advice on this matter. I am currently looking for a criminal lawyer down here in Miami to help with the case.
Hello, how are you today?
So you are wondering what the likely outcomes could be in that case?
Yes I would. I have never had this happen. I have a clean record and due to my unremarkably dumb mistake I am really scared.
I understand. Well I would first like to express to you that it is likely that you can get a plea deal out of the case. Prosecutors in these types of cases can offer generally that you are banned from the store for a period of time, or indefinitely, and that you plead guilty to a lesser charge. First degree petty theft is a misdemeanor crime, and the 1 year and 1000 dollar fine are the maximums. In your case, if you were able to get away with the clothing, the store will require you to pay what is known as restitution, which is the repayment of the cost of the merchandise allegedly stolen. Since you have no record, you have a good chance of entering into a deal with the prosecutor, but you will most likely need an attorney to negotiate for you. Unfortunately, I can not refer any attorney's to you, but if you check with the local bar association or with the state bar association, they can refer a criminal attorney to you that could better negotiate with the prosecutor. If you can not afford a private attorney, you need to fill out the affidavit of indigency at the court date to allow the court to appoint you a lawyer.
the clothes stayed in the store since they took it out before they took me to jail where my parents bonded me out.
Ok, then the prosecutor will require you to pay the court costs.
I just dont want to suffer the maximum penalty or have a record because it will affect my career.
I understand certainly, the best way to ensure that, would be to retain an attorney to negotiate it being dismissed on certain conditions such as what I stated above, with you being banned from the store.
That is fine with me as long as I have a chance of something being worked out.
You do, but your chances are better if you have an attorney to work it for you.
Does that answer your question?
I am working on finding an attorney for my day in court
That is good, just make sure you have one if you are concerned about your record.
I will sure have one there that day. Thank you so much, that takes some weight off my shoulders.
It does answer my question. I am concerned about the whole situation but mostly that. i have not stopped thinking about and it has taken a toll on me
Good, I am glad I could help, if that answers your quesitons please remember to provide a positive rating prior to exiting the chat by selecting the smiley face so that I can be credited for our time together. I think you have a good chance, but your chances go up with an attorney.
Thank you so much for your time and explanation. Gives me a higher hope
Once more thank you and have a great night
You as well, and good luck. Please do not forget to leave a positive rating!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).