Can I avoid jail on first offense theft charges? 51 Answers as of June 24, 2011

Is there any way to avoid jail time if it is a first offense with the charges being theft by taking and credit card fraud. The amount being $80.00.

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Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
I can tell you that in many cases an attorney can help you to avoid a conviction being entered on your record for a first offense by negotiating a plea bargain on your behalf. If you do not already have an attorney, you should hire the best criminal defense attorney you can afford. I have handled hundreds of these cases in the thirty-three years I have been practicing law, and I might be able to offer my services to you for a reasonable fee. Please feel free to contact me.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 6/24/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You may be able to get an ACOD- adjournment in contemplation of dismissal which means that the case is adjourned for 6 months and if you do not get in trouble the case will be dismissed. you should hire an attorney to try to get an ACOD.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/23/2011
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
The answer is possibly. Will you make restitution? Do you have any other convictions? Etc. You may be eligible for a program through the court to avoid a conviction on your record if you are a first time offender. Consult an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/22/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
You should hire an attorney to review your case and the possibility of both avoiding jail time and avoiding having this placed on your record. In Michigan, for example, based on the offense, your age, your prior record, and the facts in the case, it may be possible to avoid jail and avoid having the matter on your record, however, the particular Judge and the particular prosecutor may make a difference. That is why consulting a local attorney is critical to your case.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/22/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
A theft offense can be very serious. While any theft under $500 is a misdemeanor. Such an offense is still punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. The collateral consequences of a conviction can also be extremely significant and preclude a person from finding employment where background checks are performed. Often, if you have no prior offenses, a conviction can be avoided with a Stay of Prosecution. A Stay of Prosecution means that the offense is never recorded on your record and stayed for a certain period of time to ensure that you do not have another offense. We can assist you in making sure that your record is not affected.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    It is common that some judges impose one day jail with credit if you were booked so that if it happens again the next theft could be a felony regardless of amount. As to this case, with no record and the amount of loss being $80.00 you might be able to get the Da to reduce the charge to an infraction. All these matters need to be negotiated with the court through an experienced criminal law specialist.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. I think that you will probably be able to avoid jail time provided this is your first brush with the law.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    Sentences vary from place to place, but there are a lot of jurisdictions where that would be a probation offense.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Depends on a lot of things, but probably. Some places have 'diversion' or 'deferred adjudication' or some such, where if you do community service or drug treatment or keep your nose clean for a while, they'll dismiss the charges. And even if that is not available, you might get a plea offer of probation and no jail, or, if you go to trial and lose, a judge might not impose jail for that offense.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    I can't say for certain without knowing the details of your case, but from what you've said here it sounds like a relatively minor offense that does not merit jail time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    There is not sufficient information for me to answer your question. I assume that you have never been in trouble and the offense you are charged with is a fraudulent use of a credit card or possibly a theft of property 3d. If the charge is fraudulent use of a credit card the offense is a class c felony and is punishable by incarceration in a state prison for not less than one year and a day nor more than ten years. If the charge is theft of property third the offense is a misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year. If this is your first ever offense you are not likely looking at prison time or time in the county jail. You would likely receive a suspended sentence. However, should you ever violate the terms and conditions of the suspended sentence (probation) after resolution of this case, you could go to prison or jail.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    There is no way to guarantee no jail time even for a first offense. However, if you have a clean record and immediately paid back what was taken, you will lessen the chances of jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Your summary says you stole $80 by credit card fraud. Although you have not given me the crime that you have committed it must be a felony and since it is your first offense you will probably be placed on probation. The issue is whether your attorney can get the case dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor Petty Larceny. You should retain an experienced criminal attorney to get the best possible results under the circumstances. My fee would be $2,000 for a plea at the most. Feel free to call for a consultation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    I would recommend retaining an attorney for this matter. This response does not contain specific legal advice. If you need specific legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. Any person who is confronted at a store with allegations that they allegedly stole something at a store should consult with an attorney. In some limited instances, employees or the owner of the business may not wish to get the police involved. However, a majority of commercial retailers, especially large discount retailers (i.e., Target, Sams-Club, etc.), have thorough "loss-recovery" programs and will usually contact the police and file a police report. Any charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor needs to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Simply because a person is charged does not mean the prosecutor may ultimately convict that person. The burden of proof is lower to charge a person as opposed to convicting them. For people being charged as first-time offenders who may actually be guilty of the offense, there may be diversionary programs available that could keep a potential charge off a person's record; however, it depends on a variety of factors. Further, with less severe misdemeanors, it is a possible that even if a person is convicted, they may not serve any jail time and just pay some fines and costs. Ultimately, results vary significantly depending on a person's particular circumstances, the state the live in, their charges, etc. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations. It is worth a few phone calls. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I would recommend retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Credit Card Fraud is a felony. In the State of Washington, the standard range of jail time that can be imposed under the First-Time Offender Waiver is 0-90 days. For that range to be applied, the judge would have to elect that option. There are things you can do between now and your court date. Do whatever you can to repay what you took. Also My experience with this kind of offense is that it may be drug or alcohol-related. So it would be beneficial for you to obtain a substance abuse evaluation and follow all treatment recommendations. It is also possible that your county may offer diversion for first-time offenders. If so, you would be required to waive your speedy-trial rights and sign a confession. As long as you complete all the requirements of diversion and stay out of trouble for one year, the case would be dismissed. WHATEVER YOU DO, do not talk to the police, your friends, your girlfriend or anyone but your attorney because what you say can come back to hurt you in trial. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to call me at the phone number below. I would gladly answer your questions at no charge.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    Probably. If it is your first offense and a misdemeanor (in Missouri that means stealing under $500 worth), they will likely offer to amend it to a less serious crime such that you only pay a fine. If they won't offer to amend the charges, then you will likely be offered probation, even if you are charged with a felony. However, you will probably only get this deal if you get an attorney, so your first step is to go hire someone!
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Yes you should be able to avoid jail and maybe even a conviction for this type of charge. You will need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Yes. The first way to avoid jail to prevail in the case. Outside of a dismissal, you could always enter into a plea which would ensure no jail time, or explore an alternative to any jail. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Possibly. Have an experienced attorney negotiate for you and advise you before you begin talking and incriminating yourself further.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    CAN you? Sure. Is that likely? That depends. You may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. No attorney can predict the outcome, nor even give an intelligent opinion, without reviewing and knowing all the charges, evidence, reports, testimony, priors history, etc. Of course you can fight it. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence and facts are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. Effective plea-bargaining, using those defenses, could possibly keep you out of jail, or at least dramatically reduce it. Not exactly a do it yourself project in court for someone who does not know how to effectively represent himself against a professional prosecutor intending to convict and jail you. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Probation would be the normal type of consequence for a first offense. The judge does have the authority to impose a jail term, however, that would be abnormal.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    You are eligible for probation, at least in Texas, and more than likely any other state. In Texas, credit card abuse is a felony but they will often offer probation. Some times, though, you must cooperate with authorities in informing on others or at least how you obtained the card. You definitely need a lawyer representing you.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/21/2011
    Judin & Rogers
    Judin & Rogers | Hank Judin
    Yes. In most all jurisdictions you are eligible for probation.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    Many jurisdictions, including Oregon where I practice, tend to put people on probation for first time-offenses. Judges and DAs like to use probation to keep an eye on people and then use reserved jail sanctions when necessary (jail is expensive after all). Even when a judge gives a person jail time, the initial sentence tends to be relatively brief, more intended as a "wake up call" than anything else. Many courts prefer community service to jail for first timers, preferring to save the custody time for people who don't get the message the first time.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers | Alexander Sanchez
    Yes, this is a possibility, especially if this is your first time in the system. Your lawyer should be collecting as much positive information about you as possible, such as work history, school, military, and anything else showing you in a good light. This information should be presented to the prosecutor, who may then recommend a non jail sentence.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    We have been helping people avoid jail time on first offense theft charges for over 30 years. Many courts have "alternative" programs which allow persons accused of first offense theft offenses to attend a "shoplifters" course and do community work service and this may avoid a conviction on your record. This is important as this is a crime of moral turpitude and if you can avoid it you do not want this crime on your record as it likely will negatively impact your ability to obtain employment in the future. To determine what will happen on your case we would need to know all about your prior "life history" to determine how strong a pitch we can make to the prosecution that a "theft conviction" would damage you in the future.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Komanapalli Massey LLP
    Komanapalli Massey LLP | Mark A. Massey, Esq.
    We can almost assure you no jail time if you wish to retain our services. Your attorney must have a working relationship with the DA and negotiating savvy. Yes, you can avoid jail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    Yes, it is possible. It depends upon the specific plea negotiations with the District Attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    While no one can predict what will happen in a criminal case, you should discuss with your own defense lawyer the possibilities of seeking first offender probation, or some other alternative. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    Yes, in fact if you have nothing else on your record, you likely will not get jail time in the first place. In Nebraska, most judges will sentence you to a fine or probation for a first time misdemeanor theft offense.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Sharifi & Baron
    Sharifi & Baron | S. Yossof Sharifi
    That really depends on a number of factors including: your criminal history, the nature of victim (if you stole from a helpless old lady rather than a young millionaire, the judge/jury will not be as sympathetic), your attitude with the police and the courts, the particular judge and prosecutor assigned etc. Your best bet is to hire a good criminal defense lawyer. Many people ask whether they need a lawyer and I always tell them the same thing: you wouldn't perform surgery on yourself, so why would you try and navigate the court system yourself? Fight your theft charge, but have a good criminal lawyer by your side.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Brian Walker Law Firm, P.C.
    Brian Walker Law Firm, P.C. | Brian Walker
    The short answer is that it is possible. The answer depends upon your jurisdiction and the ability of your attorney to work with the so - called victims. I practice in Oregon and Washington state, and routinely in about a half dozen counties in each state. The policies and reasonableness varies from state to state, and county to county.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Unfortunately, it's not just drugs, but credit card fraud as well and that is taken very seriously in the law. I cannot properly advise you without knowing what state and county you live in, since it varies widely. However,if this is truly a first offense, they you have a chance of avoiding jail, but you'll need a very good attorney handling your case. Call a local attorney now and consult with them. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    You can avoid jail for a first offense of larceny. The judge makes the final decision on punishment, and bases his decision on several factors, including the seriousness of the offense and your criminal record. An attorney can negotiate with the court to achieve the best result possible for your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    I suspect there will be no jail time, unless and until the judge indicates that he will not consider no jail time. NOTE: a plea means a conviction on your record, which will NOT be expunged in a few years. A conviction remains on your record forever. See website for other answers.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If this is your first offense you should get probation. An attorney would help.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    It depends upon what jurisdiction (county, city, state) you're in. There's no one set answer. To find out what you can realistically expect, you should call an attorney with experience about what's customary for where you live.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    You should be able to avoid jail time if it is a 1st offense. However, you may want to think hard before admitting guilt and allowing a conviction to appear on your record. This decision could come back to haunt you for the rest of your life. A conviction on your CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) could prevent you from obtaining a job, qualifying for certain subsidized housing, volunteering for to participate in some of your children's activities and more. You should consult with an attorney before you make any final decision. If you can't afford one, the court may appoint one on your behalf. Think through your options and get legal advice. If you would like to discuss your matter in more detail, you can contact me at the telephone numbers, email addresses and web site listed below.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    Theft in the Third Degree (which this appears to be) has no minimum sentence and a maximum sentence of 365 days in jail so a court can put you in jail but is not required to sentence you to jail if you are convicted.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    If you have no record, then it is certainly possible.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    If it is your first offense, there is a good chance that you could get off with probation. You may also qualify for a diversion program which is like probation-lite. It consists mainly of community service and other programs they may assign you to. Upon successful completion of diversion, the charge will stay off your public record. Even if you don't retain an attorney, have an experienced criminal attorney review your file before pleading guilty to anything. There may be errors that could get the charges reduced or dismissed. He will also be able to tell you more on whether you qualify for diversion or what your likely sentence will be.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    You may be able to negotiate a plea deal for which you receive a reduced and/or suspended sentence in return for probation or some other diversion program. This is something you would be able to discuss in detail with a criminal defense attorney if you were to hire one to help you with your case. If you are seeking legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, we invite you to contact our firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    It's possible- You need an attorney to review the facts and circumstances. This is not something you want handle yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    Usually with no priors and restitution.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Normally I person would not do jail time on a first offense theft like that - but it can depend on the county and the specific facts of your case. It might ease your mind to meet with a lawyer in your area familiar with the Court in your area and discuss the options - that meeting would not be very expensive.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The credit card fraud could be a problem. However, a first offense is a factor in your favor. Disposition of a case can be a fairly personal matter involving the court an the DA. Were you to attempt resolution on your own, you would be talking to the court in front of the entire audience. NO good deals ever come that way. Hire a LOCAL attorney. He or she will probably be able to meet with the court and DA in chambers. If there are deals, that is where and when they are.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Attorney at Law
    Attorney at Law | Steven C. Bullock
    Yes, in all likelihood the jurisdiction in which your case is pending has a diversion program which would allow for probation with no jail time. Without question, you should have representation to steer you through the process.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/20/2011
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