Can I get first offense misdemeanor petty theft off my record? 31 Answers as of May 22, 2013

I turned 18 a month ago and got caught shoplifting at a sephore for about $100 dollars worth of makeup. I got a ticket for misdemeanor petty theft. Court date in couple of months and I need to make an appointment with the police to get my picture taken and finger printed. What can I do to get this off my record? I searched on online and heard about the diversion(?) program and I can not hire a lawyer so when I go to court what should I do or say? Also how severe do you think my punishment will be? Hours or community service to jail? I did the crime so i am willing to take the consequences but I don’t want my idiotic mistake of being a 18 year old affect my life forever by having it stay on my record and going to jail.

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Ask for "DEFERRED" adjudication. This will require you to own up to the facts, and ask for mercy. Theft over $50 is a Class B misdemeanor. So, you will end up paying a lot more than the $100 you stole - in the area of $1000-2000 would be a good estimate. I hope you learned from this, the thrill, if that is what you were after, is the most expensive rush you will ever have. Deferred is similar to probation except you are not convicted. You can deny the conviction but not the arrest, so when filling out job applications, read the questions carefully. After your deferred period is up (assuming you mind your manners, follow the rules, pay your fines, court costs, etc) you can be discharged and the record sealed (similar to a juvenile record) with a Petition for Non-Disclosure. The Petition for Non-Disclousre by the way is not cheap - the current filing fee is $250 (plus or minus depending on the county) with an additional $15 per agency to be notified (plan on 7-12 agencies) and attorneys fees which can run the gamut. Bottom line, you tried to take $100 in make-up (that is really just $5 worth of chemicals in a $2 package with $93 worth of markup), the make-up was confiscated and you are going to end up paying close to $3000 before this problem is over and they are not going to give you the make-up when you are done. However, preaching aside, a deferred adjudication is your best bet IF YOU ACTUALLY DID THE CRIME. Your question does not admit nor deny the act. If you are in fact innocent, then in my opinion do not plea, go to trial. Since you asked what could you expect, this is a Class B Misdemeanor, the range of punishment is 0 - 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2000. Probation and community service are not "defined" within the punishment range, those are factors too dependent on the facts, circumstances, the attitude of the Judge, prosecutor and the victim (Sephore).
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 9/20/2012
Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, ask the court to appoint one for you. Do not say at your arraignment, other than request an attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/19/2012
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
This conviction may be eligible for an expungement if state law permits it. You should consult with an attorney with specific information to permit him to check the statutes to give you a date when it can be done.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 9/14/2012
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
Ask for the public defender, when you get to court. You should qualify for a diversion program, which should entail some community service, and which can be expunged, once the State dismisses the charges after you do the service. You will not go to jail for this.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 9/14/2012
Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
If you can't afford an attorney you should apply for a public defender when you go to court. Hopefully the PD will know how to keep it off of your record. If not you should strongly consider hiring an attorney. Diversion is a possibility but it depends on the prosecutor and judge as to if it get approved.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    A diversion program would keep this off your record and most counties in WA offer such programs. Otherwise you may be offered a deferred plea where if you stay out of trouble for a period of time, the case will be dismissed. In either case you will need to petition the court to seal non-conviction data to keep this from showing up during a background check.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    Apologize for what happened and offer to do a diversionary program in exchange for dismissing your case after you complete it or plead to a summary Disorderly Conduct at worst.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    No.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    You are likely eligible for youthful offender status considering your age, and hopefully, a lack of a prior criminal record. If granted youthful offender status there will be no record of a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
    As a first time offender, you may qualify for a program. Inquiry at your court hearing should be able to provide an answer.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    If you are eligible for a diversion, most definitely do so. If you comply with the conditions of the diversion, the case is dismissed upon compliance. If you do not comply, you are convicted and have a permanent record. Otherwise, if you are convicted and it is a first offense, you will probably get a suspended sentence with no jail time. This is only a last resort. You want to do everything you can not to have a conviction. A conviction for theft can have long term consequences, who wants to hire someone who steals and can't be trusted? If you are planning to go to college, a criminal conviction may disqualify you from admittance into certain colleges, certainly the higher tier colleges. A conviction will also disqualify you from federal student aid, grants and scholarships. I would stronly advise you to hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    First lawyer may be able to get you into a idversion program. Do not say that you can't afford to hire a lawyer. You can't afford not to. A theft conviction can affect your whole life. What employer wants to hire a thief? How are you going to get a job?
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Off? No. You now have an arrest record. Forever. Try to avoid getting a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If the police or prosecution are inclined to offer you diversion, it will likely happen before you make an appearance in court. You may be able to discuss your case with a prosecutor at the courthouse on the day of your appearance to discuss a possible settlement that will not create a permanent record. Otherwise, I suggest you get yourself an attorney and enter a plea of "not guilty". The attorney may be able to resolve the case.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    In Oregon, diversion means that if you jump through the hoops the court gives you, you don't end up with a conviction. There are a lot of similar programs, and the details differ. A dismissal can usually be expunged, but you need to talk to a lawyer about your specifics. If you can't afford counsel, the court will appoint counsel. Signing up for diversion is something they try to make easy, so you might be able to handle it yourself without counsel, but you should have counsel if you can.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law Office of Ronald G. Draper | Ronald G. Draper
    You have a two year waiting period from the end of your sentence before you are eligible to expunge your record.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law Office of Jared C. Winter
    Law Office of Jared C. Winter | Jared C. Winter
    You should not try to handle this on your own. Invest some money in a good criminal defense lawyer to help you with this case. You are young and do not want to jeopardize your future by trying to do a lawyer's job on your own.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
    When you go to court, enter a not guilty plea and ask for a court appointed attorney. The matter will then be set for a pre-trial where it is possible to plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney any hopefully obtain a diversion program. If that is not possible and you are convicted, if this is your only offence, you could petition the court to expunge the record after a period of 5 years.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    You can file for an expungment in 6 years. There are so may possibilities.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You must complete the terms of your sentence before you can petition to have your record expunged. It is likely you will be required to take a victims class, do community service, pay a fine, probation, stay away from the business and have no further criminal violations. The store can also assess a civil penalty of twice the value of the item stolen.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/14/2012
    Law Office of Charles J. Block
    Law Office of Charles J. Block | Charles J. Block
    If you get convicted, you will have to wait 5-years before you can get the charge expunged.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You need to hire a good defense attorney ASAP. Theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and your future school and job prospects will be ruined if you have this on your record. All this stuff about diversion you heard about...well, that may well depend on how good your lawyer is!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Attorney at Law | Ernest Krause
    If you do what you are told you won't go to jail. The diversion program will not be difficult. Your case will be dismissed after successful probation. Judge could dismiss it earlier.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    You will probably receive diversion or probation. Five years from when you get off probation, you can get the conviction vacated and dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    You may well be offered a diversion program, in which you would attend a class, complete some community service hours and pay fines and costs, then the case will be dismissed. After it is dismissed you need to see about getting the records sealed and then expunged. You cannot get this done for free.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Ask the prosecutor about a diversion or Deferred judgment and sentence when you go to court, and see if you can work that out. If so, after the deferral period is over you can petition, in a separate action, to seal the record which will remove it from the public records when people do background searches.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    Whether you may expunge the record depends on the outcome. Nolle prosequi, stet, and probation before judgment may be expunged, but convictions may not.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You will probably get an ACD dismissal and have no record even with as public defender. You are also eligible for Youthful Offender treatment but you will not need that or want it since the ACD dismissal is better. You will not have a criminal record and you will not go to jail in most New York State court rooms. Life is all about getting a good education and making good decisions. Shoplifting and all crimes are very bad decisions and can ruin your future if you get a criminal record. Everyone should get a second chance, but learn from your mistake and you will not have to worry about any consequences this time.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/12/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Your looking at a fine and court cost for the offense. It will remain on your record unless you get a lawyer and get diversion.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 9/12/2012
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