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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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I live in kansas and went to missouri for vacation and got

Customer Question

i live in kansas and went to missouri for vacation and got shoplifting at walmart for a 8.99 zippo lighter and charged me w petty theft
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: is there anything i can do to help my case on court monday
JA: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in?
Customer: missouri
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: i am also on traffic diversion in kansas so will this affect my diversion in kansas
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

Hi,

I'm Zoey.

I've reviewed your post. Please be patient as I may need to research for you, and it also takes time to compose and type a reply.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
okay
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

If the prosecutor in Missouri reaches out to Kansas and tells them about your new arrest, your diversion in Kansas will be done for. If you didn't take a plea, your Kansas case will just reopen and you will start all over, except diversion won't be possible.

As for Missouri, typically on a clean record, you'd be offered diversion for a first shoplifting offense where the value of the item is low. Sometimes, the prosecutor will let a defendant have diversion anyhow, even with one out-of-state conviction. If not, you should be able to resolve this matter with a plea and a fine. However, you should consider having a lawyer, who might be able to get this matter dismissed or reduced to a civil shoplifting infraction, which would solve your problem easily on the Missouri end and also in Kansas, as there would be no conviction.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
what is a plea? and how is a civil shoplifting infraction better than the other? how would getting a lawyer help both my cases
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

what is a plea?

A plea is an alternative to taking the case to trial. You plead guilty to a charge to get a favorable sentence your attorney works out for you.

and how is a civil shoplifting infraction better than the other?

Criminal shoplifting is a misdemeanor. Getting convicted of that will get you a criminal record for a theft offense. A civil infraction, on the other hand, is like a parking ticket. You pay a fine but it's not a crime and so nothing goes on your criminal record.

how would getting a lawyer help both my cases

A Missouri lawyer might be able to resolve the shoplifting case in some way that doesn't give you a conviction. A conviction in Missouri will cause you to lose out on your diversion matter in Kansas. If you don't end up with a conviction in Missouri, your Kansas case will be diverted so that you could end up with neither a Kansas nor a Missouri criminal conviction.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
if i go alone without a lawyer do you think they would charge me guilty w no diversion for the first time shoplifter?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

If they just check your Missouri record, they can offer you diversion on this charge. If they find your Kansas matter, they will just arraign you on the shoplifting and, if you don't have a lawyer, you would have to try to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor or decide to fight the case yourself.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
do you have any advice for me if i don't get a lawyer in time? what i should say or anything like that
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
can't i request an attorney if i can't afford one or get one on time?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

If you're brought before a judge, then your charges will be read into the court record and you'll be asked how you plead to them. It is both customary and expected for a criminal defendant to first plead "Not Guilty," as that is the only plea that will keep his rights open. Anything else would result in an immediate conviction and leave your sentence entirely up to to the whim of the judge.

If you are too poor to afford a lawyer, once you plead not guilty, you can just tell the judge you cannot afford representation and ask him to appoint you a public defender. If you can afford a lawyer, you can tell the judge you did not have enough time to retain a lawyer, and ask for a continuance so that you can hire one for the next date.

A way to find a criminal lawyer in a hurry would be to get to court early on your court date. You'll see lawyers in the courtroom handling other cases. If one impresses you, you can talk to him or her in the hallway and retain the lawyer to stand on your case right then and there.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
how much does it cost on average for a lawyer?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
do you think i have a good chance to get my charges changed if i get a lawyer?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

Lawyers set their rates by how much time they will have to spend to resolve a client's problem. If you're just looking for a favorable plea offer, this should be very reasonable because on a case like this, the lawyer is not going to have to put much time into your case. He may even be able to resolve it on the first or second court date. If I had to estimate, I'm guessing it should be under $1,500, maybe even considerably so.

Yes, for the theft of an $8.99 item, I think a lawyer should be able to resolve this in some way that is favorable to you.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
the price should range around $1500 or lower?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

Yes, because you're probably not going to want to go to trial on this case. If you did take the item, then the state would likely be able to prove it and you'd risk some jail if you're convicted after trial.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
how would the case go to trial?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

If the state doesn't want to dismiss the charges and you don't want to take a plea, it would have to eventually be tried. It's your choice to go to trial or to accept an offer.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
basically if i don't have a lawyer i should probably take whatever offer the judge gives
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

No. You can ask for a better offer. You just have a better chance of getting that with a lawyer, since a lawyer is a professional negotiator and knows all of the reasonable options available to you and you don't.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
okay thank you
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

You're very welcome!

I strive for 5-star service. If I have addressed all of your concerns, please take the time to rate my service to you by selecting 3, 4, or (hopefully) 5 stars on the rating scale, as that is the only way that JustAnswer gives us Experts credit for our work. You would still be able to post further follow ups on this question thread about this for no additional cost, even after I've been rated.

Good luck!