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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27757
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My son 20 years old got a charge for First degree theft with

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My son 20 years old got a charge for First degree theft with intend to resell. That happened in college where took books from the bookstore and sold it back to them. We paid back all amount to the bookstore and satisfied the school counselor, took the course and had a meeting a an independent counselor too. Now he has to go to the court next week. What type of sentence should we expect? do we need an attorney or the public attorney would work?

Thank you

Hi Jacustomer,

A couple of questions first. Has he been arraigned on the charges or is this his very first court date? Who required the course? Does he have a lawyer

Use the reply tab below to let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The letter came from the Spokane county to appear in the superior court next week. That is the first arraignment in the criminal dept. of Spokane county.

The counselor at university requested the online course to be completed by him . That counselor in the middle man between the legal system and the school. Now my son moved back and living with us, he had difficult time to live by himself.


Thanks for the response.

In Washington State this is a fairly serious charge. Theft with intent to sell items valued between $250-$1,500 is a Class C felony. If the items were worth over $1,500, it's a Class B felony. Here's the statute for you to see what the charge is all about and what the state would have to be able to prove. (see link)

On the Class C felony, there would be a minimum of 18 months in jail and a maximum of five years of prison. On the B, there would be a minimum of 3 years in prison for this offense and a maximum of 10.

I don't want to scare you to death, and I don't see your son as having to really worry about jail here. However, I did want to tell you what the charges are worh on paper.

He needs a lawyer badly. If you can afford to hire one for him by his court date, have the lawyer with him when he goes to court. If neither he nor you can afford counsel, he must go in on his court date and plead not guilty and then ask the judge for a public defender. The judge will assign one if they believe he is financially eligible for one, which is to say poor. Different jurisdictions decide what "poor" means to them differently, but the important thing if he doesn't have a lawyer on his first date is that he has to plead not guilty.

Even if he wants a plea down the road, the only plea that keeps his rights open so that a lawyer can negotiate something for him is a not guilty plea.

Long term, the fact that he owned up to this to the school, that he's already paid back the school, taken a course and attended counseling is great news. It shows he understand accountability and he's looking to get his life back under control.

Characteristically, a prosecutor will reduce the charges and offer a deal. With luck, particularly if the school is content with the remorse he's shown, the prosecutor can drop the charge to just a regular theft offense. With that, he can get probation, and there are even special forms of probation that could allow someone to complete the program of supervision successfully and then get his charges dismissed.

Presently, his charges are too serious for the special forms of probation. But if the school and the prosecutor aren't hell-bent on destroying his future, and given the steps he's taken to help himself, a lawyer may be able to negotiate something very favorable for him. Otherwise, I'm confident he'll be offered straight probation and will at least be able to avoid an incarceratory sentence.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the briefing answer. It would be great if we get the approximate fee for a lawyer in this type of case?

Do you think we should contact the school to send their feed back to the court?


The amount on the letter says exceeding $1500, which is probably a class B, does it make big difference to get him on a probation judgment?


Thanks again


The prosecutor will be in touch with the school because the school is the complainant. They will already know that your son has paid it off. It's not really advisable to contact the complainant now that there's a court date. If the complainant doesn't like it and tells the prosecutor it can look like witness tampering, which is the last thing you need. The person to tell all he's done to help himself here is whoever his lawyer is going to be.

Legal fees vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I live in NYC, where the fees would likely be much higher than where you are. Lawyers set their rates based on how much time they think they will have to spend on a case. If they think they will be negotiating a deal they will charge less than if their services will be needed all the way through a trial. This case won't be tried, because basically he admitted his wrongdoing to the school and made amends for it.

The best place to find an accurate ballpark figure for a criminal case that likely won't go to trial is the Washington State Bar Association's Legal Referral Service. Give them a call. They can also steer you to a criminal lawyer in your area. THey charge a fee of around $50, which includes a free half hour consultation with the lawyer.

The fact that your son was not incarcerated for this offense indicates that despite the seriousness of the charge -- a class B felony -- is part of why I feel that he is likely to be offered a disposition that's non-incarceratory.

Washington has a very elaborate sentencing guidelines chart, and it would appear that this is a Level III in seriousness. If I am reading this correctly, as someone who has no prior contact with the law, he would appear to be eligible for a probation offer, even on the B. But ideally, the lawyer can get the charges knocked down some and your son may be able to do even better as I indicated above.
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