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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 118688
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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My 17 year old daughter was arrested and charged with a felony

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My 17 year old daughter was arrested and charged with a felony of stealing $300 worth of merchandise from her employer (KMart). She gave a full confession to the store manager and LP in a 4 page written statement. She claims that a 40 year old woman who works there (and was also arrested and charged with $5000 worth of theft) convinced our daughter that she was helping this woman's kids due to lack of income to meet expenses.
Our daughter and this woman were arrested and taken to the local magistrate's office and released in our custody. This morning, she went to court to hear the charges and potential punishment (up to 39 years in jail) and was ordered to appear in court for trial on January 23rd. She accidentally waived her rights to a public defender (we were in the gallery, but we did not hear what she said due to a child crying. We are not in a position to afford an attorney at this point and are wondering is it too late to obtain a public defender due to the waiver. Also, as our daughter is a straight A student and on the National Honors Society and has never had any type of legal issues prior and is from a good home and family, what are we facing as far as typical legal punishment for her?
We intend to make her pay back the $300 and of course will issue parental punishment.
She also claims that neither of the two when arrested were given there Miranda Rights.
You need to take her to the public defender's office immediately and make arrangements for representation. Just because she waived her rights to the public defender at the first hearing does not mean she cannot change her mind subsequently upon proof to the public defender that you cannot afford an attorney to represent her.

NC is a VERY HARSH state when it comes to theft charges and the worst part is under NC law it is almost impossible to later get the charges expunged if she gets convicted so this will haunt her forever. Thus, you need to get her the attorney immediately and do whatever you can to make sure she has one. The problem is that because she gave a full confession, this will be used against her and there is not much the attorney can do to fight this charge except to work out a deal perhaps for your daughter to testify against the other woman.

If the have charged her with a felony larceny, this must be because they are adding in the property stolen by the other woman, since larceny under $1000 is a misdemeanor in NC. Larceny of $1000 or more in NC is a class H felony and the general sentence on a Class H felony is only 4-5 years, so I do not understand how they have charged her if there is a potential of 39 years involved here. Typically a first offender on even a class H felony is going to get probation and community service and not a prison sentence.

You must go to the public defender's office as soon as possible here so they can agree to represent her and get the case file to see how the court is claiming there is a maximum 39 year sentence, since that does not make sense for a misdemeanor theft or even a class H felony for theft over $1000.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks was actually a mistake on the years. I just spoke to her and she indicated that it was 39 months not years. Needless to say, with everything going on, she was more than confused! It looks like I will take her and the paperwork to the PD office on Friday and see what we can do.

As she is unemployed now, and sadly, I have been unemployed since May of 2012, money for all this is tight. I appreciate the advice and will do what you suggested.

39 months is within line of the class H felony and to have charged her with a felony they have to be alleging she took over $1000 of property. You do indeed need to get her representation here to at least get the charges dropped to a misdemeanor and to try to work out a deal for a first offender sentence which would allow for a fine and community service and a dismissal upon completion of the sentence to help her keep her record clear.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hey Paul,


I am looking at the Magistrate Order which states: I the undersigned, find that the defendant named above, has been charged without a warrant and his (her) detention is justified because there is probable cause to believe that on or about the date of offense shown ( 12/19/12) and in the county named (Buncombe) the defendant did unlawfully, willfully and feloniously;

steal, take or carry away property described below (misc. food and clothing) having a value of $300


Larceny by employee is the charge.

Thank you for clearing that up, this is a different charge from the regular larceny in NC. This specific charge under NC GS 14-74 is a class H felony no matter what the amount taken up to $100,000. However, this would still be eligible for negotiating a first offender sentence and even negotiating this down to a petty misdemeanor for regular shoplifting, but the attorney will have to negotiate this with the prosecutor.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Paul,


I spoke with a good friend of mine is who a retired SBI Agent (State Bureau of Investigation) who does consulting work for local law enforcement agencies, etc. He feels that we need to try to get those moved to juvenile court and also recommends going to the PD office to see about reversing the waiver so she can retain PD representation. The PD may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for first offender as you suggest or possibly even get it all moved to juvenile court. Seems we have some options and as you suggested, need to start this asap.

Whether or not she is charged as an adult or juvenile at 17 is wholly up to the DA's discretion, so the first thing you need to do is as your friend confirmed, get the PD representation and get them to start negotiating.

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