Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
I'm sorry to hear about your situation and I understand you are scared, but fortunately it is not very serious. Shoplifting is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1000. It is practically unheard of for a person to get jail time for a first offense that is this minor. If you can afford it, however, I would recommend getting an attorney to represent you, simply because I am sure you want to keep your clean record clean, and an attorney can likely negotiate an outcome for you that doesn't result in a conviction. Taking the case to trial may be risky, because if the judge does not find your story credible, you could end up with a conviction. But an attorney can try to get you into some kind of pre-trial diversion program, where you would essentially be given some sort of requirement(s) to complete (usually community service) and if you do so, the charge ends up dismissed. It is possible to try to work these types of resolutions out with the prosecutor on your own, but it tends to be easier with a lawyer. And most will do a case like this for a flat fee (if you can't afford an attorney, you can try to contact the public defender's office for representation).