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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26763
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I got caught shoplifting at walmart $35 total. They had to

Customer Question

I got caught shoplifting at walmart $35 total. They had to call cops cause was over there $25 limit. The copy wrote me out a citation to appear in court. This is my first time ever doing anything like this and I have a clean record. No tickets etc.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.

Shoplifting in this amount is a misdemeanor offense. You haven't actually asked a question, but if you're wondering whether you will be placed in jail when you show up to court, the answer is no. So long as you don't get arrested further while the case is pending and so long as you make all of your court appearances, you will be allowed to remain at liberty while you fight your case.

If you're asking whether you're going to be sentenced to jail, that's highly unlikely unless you take your case all the way to trial and lose. If you lose at trial, you could expect some jail time. What should be more worrisome for you, however, would be the prospect of ending up with a criminal record.

With a first offense, low level shoplifting, if you wanted to dispose of this without going to trial, you would be eligible for a diversion type of disposition. This is a special type of offer from the prosecutor where you are supervised and essentially work off your conviction by staying out of any further trouble with the law, payiing fines, doing community service and taking anti-theft classes. Complete all of your requirements and your case gets dismissed so that you do not have to carry around a criminal conviction on your RAP sheet.

Although you are eligible for this and other types of dispositions that could protect your record, it may have to be negotiated for you. So if you can afford a lawyer, you should have one with you on your court date. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can plead not guilty when you come to court and are arraigned on your charges (that's when your charges are read into the record and you are asked how you plead). Once you plead not guilty you can tell the judge that you do not have the financial means to retain counsel and ask him to appoint you a criminal lawyer.