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LegalKnowledge
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I was caught for shoplifting at a beauty store about a month

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I was caught for shoplifting at a beauty store about a month ago in New York, and the items were worth $230. I was kept in a precinct for 4-5 hours and they gave me a letter for the court date (which is May 31st). I paid $500 for the beauty store company online for the shoplifted items already, before the court was due. I'm an international student in college and leaving the country for the summer on June 1st. It was my first time ever, pure curiosity, stupid thing happened when I'm visiting new york. (I go to school in Pennsylvania). The police officer who gave me a court letter said that there will be a court date, and I must attend there, and since it was my first time, they would release me, and I should ask the Judge to seal the case to eradicate the record. Do you think it would be as simple as that? or do you think I would be in jail for the first time shoplifting? Please let me know what I can do about this, or even I should hire a lawyer for the court. The officer said that I would have a public defender on the court date, but I'm not sure that's enough. Is it too late to hire a lawyer, having only a week left for the court?
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.

Good morning. Was the $500 which you paid part of a civil demand by the store for damages?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello, thank you so much.


Yes, I think so. I received a mail from the company and they requested me to pay $500 fine for the shoplifting damages. I paid it right away online, and have the receipt. Do you think this will help me at the court?


 


The police officer said since it was my first time, I would get no time in jail, have a public defender, and there will no record left if I don't get in trouble for the next 6 months. But I'm not sure if I should still hire a lawyer. Some say shoplifting is common and not considered so seriously compared to other cases, so there would be no time. but I'm just very concerned and nervous since this has never happened before, and I must leave the country on June 1st.


 


Thank you so much

Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome. The $500 you said was a civil demand for damages and has nothing to do with the criminal case, so it is not something that would necessarily help. As a first time offender, there should be no reason that the State should seek any jail time. You should not worry about that. Based upon what the officer told you and what the court would likely offer, is some type of pre-trial diversion program offered to first time offenders. As long as your stay out of trouble and comply with what is asked of you, the State is often willing to dismiss/drop the charges at the end of the case. You can ask about this when you appear. Something which is very important for you to address with the court, is that you are leaving the net day for the summer. As such, there needs to likely be a resolution to the case that day. If you were to leave the next day and the case was not resolved, you would be required to appear at another hearing, likely a month later. If you failed to appear, a warrant would be issued. You can ask for the PD to be appointed but you may not need one of the State offers to dismiss the case if you stay out of trouble, as stated above. Be aware though if they ask you to perform community service or take some type of shoplifters education class, that you are going to be out of the country and need to find a way to get this done, prior to the deadline. Also, if you are under any type of supervision, you need to make sure the court knows and gives you permission to leave the country. You need to make sure you know your options when you appear, address the issue about leaving the country June 1 and what you can do to assure that the charge gets dismissed, if possible, so it does not appear on your record.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much for your detailed answers.


I have just a few more questions:


 


do you think I should hire an attorney for the court on the 31st?


 


Also, I'm an international student - should I bring all the documents that certify my enrollment at the university? (ID, passport, I-20, school letter, etc) because I heard non-citizens may have to attend the court several times. and since that's not possible for me, leaving on June1st, could you inform me what I can do about this?


 


I'm coming back to the states in the beginning of September. If the court requires me to come back, do you think it's possible to set the date in September? do you think that's too late? it's absolutely not possible for me to come back to the States before that..


 


Also, when I appear at the court on the 31st, am I going to have a time to talk with PD before the court hearing starts?


 


Finally, you said: "Also, if you are under any type of supervision, you need to make sure the court knows and gives you permission to leave the country." Does it mean that is there any possibility that the court might not let me leave the country on June 1st? do they have the authority to do so?


 


 


Again, thank you so much for everything. I will definitely follow up with the best rating!!


 

Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
I think it is always in the best interest of a defendant to be represented by legal counsel. As such, if you can afford to retain private counsel, do so. You should bring with you, just in case, your documents to evidence where you will be going this summer. It may not be necessary but is always good to have, if there is any question about it. If needed, the next court date could be set after you return, so any evidence to show this, should be in your possession as well. If you retain an attorney, you will not need the public defender. Only if you are unable to afford private counsel, will the Judge then consider appointing the PD. Until they are appointed and your legal counsel, they may not be able to give you any legal advice. As far as you leaving the country, you need to see if the diversion program or the plea that is offered that may result in a dismissal, does not require you to report monthly. Technically speaking, if you were placed on probation, you would not be allowed to leave the country without permission. This is another reason to retain counsel ahead of time, so that they can try and contact the State, work a plea and let you know what to expect, when you appear.
LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience: 7+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
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