How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Zoey, JD Your Own Question
Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26776
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Zoey, JD is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Zoey. I have a question. I suffer from PTSD and ADD and have

Customer Question

Hi Zoey. I have a question. I suffer from PTSD and ADD and have been under very high stress, i recently lost both my parent 8 months apart from eachother. Needless to say i have not been in the right frame of mind. July @7th i had lifted hygeine products from walmart. I had never done this before. I was not banned from the store. But i do have a court date in 2 weeks. I received a letter from them about a settlement offer. They are allowing me to do payments. And said i still have to go to court. Im terrified. And unable to leave my house to look for legal consult. Is it necessary for me to have legal representation? What will happen to me?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
My name is ***** ***** I will be assisting you with your question.
It is always a good idea to have legal representation when you are a defendant on a criminal case. That's why the Constitution provides a right to counsel for all who are charged with a crime.
The settlement offer is a civil matter and you will need to pay that. But that does not change the fact that Walmart has also come after you criminally and that you still must resolve your criminal case.
Florida has a pre-trial diversion program for first-time shoplifters. That means that instead of coming before the judge and having to plead to the offense to dispose of this case, a defendant would talk directly to the prosecutor and agree to successfully complete a period of supervision by the department of probation and the requirements (usually fines, anti-theft classes and community service) after which this matter would be dismissed. Essentially, a diversion program is a way to keep this charge from affecting your criminal record so that you could deny ever having been convicted of a crime.
There is also something similar which is a deferred adjudication, where you'd plead guilty to the shoplifting but be able to work off your sentence so that the conviction does not get entered against you.
Either of these two dispositions are very typical outcomes for first time shoplifters. While contact with the criminal justice system should never be ta***** *****ghtly, the odds of you doing any jail time for this case are zero, so long as you make your court appearances, and your very worst case scenario on a plea to the charge would, in my experience, be nothing worse than probation.
If you can afford a lawyer, you may want to retain one and have him work on this before the adjourn date so that a deal could get cut for a diversion type of disposition before you even show up in court. You could contact the Florida State Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. They will give you the name of an attorney and their small referral fee -- around $50 -- would include a free half hour consultation with a lawyer which you could have over the telephone if you cannot go out to meet him in person before the court date.
If you can't afford a lawyer or can't get a lawyer and have to come before the judge without one, you should plead NOT GUILTY at your arraignment and let the court know you are interested in a diversion type of disposition. If for any reason it's denied to you, your fallback position would be to maintain your position of not guilty and ask the judge to appoint a public defender or for a continuance so that you could retain private counsel, so that your can work out something favorable to you on the next date.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what would happen if i plead no contest? i also have trouble speaking on the phone. that is because of my anxiety.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
is it possible for me to talk to walmarts recovery team and beg to have charges dropped? i apologize if that sounds silly. my anxiety has been at an all time high the past year. last may i lost my dad. this january i lost my mom. in a legal battle with my older brother to stay in my home. the lawyer i have been working with has only sen a few correspondence letters to his lawyer and that bill is already $6000.00 My lawyer is intimidating and do not want him involved in this. he would probably chare another $6000.00 to help me with this. i greatly appreciate your time and input
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
The ONLY plea that will not give you a criminal conviction is a plea of NOT guilty. A plea of No Contest will result in your having a criminal record.
Pleading NOT guilty, keeps your rights open so that you can negotiate a deal that keeps the case off of your record. Once you have the DA's promise of a deal you want, THEN you can take back your not guilty plea and enter a plea of guilty or no contest to get the deal.
If you plead guilty or no contest before you negotiate, you cannot negotiate later. You close that door once you've already been convicted.
Your case is out of Walmart's hands and the DA can go forward whether Walmart wishes it or not. There is no reason to contact Walmart and every reason not to. Since you've been charged already, it could be construed as witness tampering and lead to further charges.