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Hello,There is a difference between what the state needs to make an arrest and what they need in order to be able to get a conviction. To make an arrest they need probable cause. Probable cause is just a reasonable belief that crime was afoot and that you may have had something to do with it.One does not have to actually exit the store and go home with the goods to be charged with petty larceny. All they need is enough evidence to infer your intent to take the goods. The fact that you had the items in your purse is enough to give them a reasonable suspicion that you intended to steal them. They do not have to believe you. They are entitled to their own interpretation of facts. They can have the case filed with the court, which was done, and attempt to prove their side of the story beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a he said/she said type of case, and if you want to fight this case a judge or jury will determine whether you intended to take the goods or not after they have heard all of the evidence. If the state can't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, you must be acquitted. That's much more difficult than finding probable cause.You will need to get yourself a criminal lawyer. If you don't want to fight this case, he may be able to get this matter reduced to a lesser charge and, in any case, if it's your first contact with the criminal justice system, you can likely dispose of the case without getting yourself a criminal record. The lawyer can negotiate some sort of a diversion dispostion, which would get the case dismissed after you successfully completed certain court mandated requirements, such as fines, community service and anti-theft classes.If you do want to fight the case that's all the more reason for having a lawyer. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of 6 months of jail time, so you should leave your defense to a pro.
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