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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25991
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was caught shoplifting at a kohls store in October, 50

Customer Question

I was caught shoplifting at a kohls store in October, 50 dollars worth of stuff. No police were called but I was sent some civil demand letters that I haven't paid yet.I got my final notice a couple weeks ago but it says the due date on it is for the 13th and then I got a letter that I'm being summoned to court for 3rd degree theft.Im only 18, This is my first time doing anything like this. I don't have any money and I'm scared of whats going tohappen. Is this going on my record? Am I going to go to jail? How muchmoney will I be looing at having to pay.
JA: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in? And when did this happen? I'm not sure of the exact price, but there's only a $5 deposit. The rest of the price information will be on the page I send you to.
Customer: Washington State It happened on October 10th I just got the court summonstoday
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: Not yet. I'm just so scared
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No thank you
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 months ago.

Hi,

I'm Zoey and I'll be assisting you. I'm reviewing your question now. Please be patient while I compose a reply for you.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 months ago.

In Washington State, shoplifting for less than $250 of goods is a gross misdemeanor. That means it carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

You won't have to really worry about jail on a first offense of this type, unless you go all the way to trial and lose it. Your biggest concern would be keeping your criminal record clean, as you already seem to know.

It typically is possible to get an adjudicated dismissal of some sort if this is your first contact with the law. That's a special form of supervision where you essentially work the conviction off of your record. That is, you pay some fines, perform some community service, stay out of further trouble during the period of your supervision and take an anti-shoplifting class, Once you have completed everything satisfactorily, the case gets dismissed.

Such programs are generally available to low-level shoplifters on a first arrest, but it may have to be negotiated for you. For that reason, you should come in with a lawyer and he will tell you how to proceed. If you cannot afford a lawyer, plead NOT guilty at your arraignment to keep all of your rights open. Then you can ask the court to appoint you a public defender.