Do I need an attorney to defend case for stealing? 54 Answers as of July 03, 2013

I got caught stealing less than $50.00 worth of merchandise. Do I need to get a lawyer?

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
In Michigan, the maximum penalties for a retail fraud, third, usually charged in alleged shop-lifting cases for merchandise with a value under $200.00, is 93 days in jail, probation up to two years,a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. MCL 750.356d. Please note, however, that these are the maximum possible penalties. Judges in Michigan misdemeanor cases have a wide latitude with their sentences up to the maximum pursuant to the applicable statute. Policies and practices vary widely depending on the judge and county. An arraigning judge usually advises a defendant of their maximum possible penalties pursuant to the law.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/4/2011
Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
It is important to have representation in a theft case. This type of case can affect employment, travel and housing. Please seek representation.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 10/31/2011
Law Offices of Kiran Nair
Law Offices of Kiran Nair | Kiran K. Nair
Hello: If you are a non-citizen then you need an attorney because depending on your immigration status and history, petty theft offense is grounds to deny admission or legal status or cause for removal. Moreover, depending on why the crime was committed. It may be plausible to obtain dismissal whereby you may forego having any criminal record because petty theft is a misdemeanor offense.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/28/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
Yes.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/3/2013
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
That depends on whether you are willing to have a permanent record for the conviction of theft of property. An attorney might be able to keep you from having a record.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/26/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Yes you should have an attorney. The state will have an attorney to prosecute you and you should have an attorney on your side. If you cannot afford an attorney request the services of the public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Levine & McHenry LLC
    Levine & McHenry LLC | Matthew McHenry
    You have a constitutional right to represent yourself. That being said, defendants nearly always benefit with the help of an experienced attorney who knows the system, the rules of evidence, and the possible penalties you face, among other things.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/3/2013
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Yes, you want an attorney. The lawyer might be able to get you a deal, where you have no record. If you get a conviction for stealing under most circumstances, it will stay on your record forever otherwise. This will affect your life. Employers do not like to hire thieves.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Keyser Law Firm
    Keyser Law Firm | Christopher W. Keyser
    It is not mandatory that you hire an attorney for a theft case but it certainly is a prudent measure. If you are charged with either misdemeanor theft or theft as a petty misdemeanor, you probably will not serve jail time if you plead guilty (assuming this is your first offense). However, it is important to keep your record clear of a conviction. This can be accomplished in different ways but typically is done through a stay of prosecution or a continuance for dismissal. Having a lawyer advocate for you increases your chances of getting such a result.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    You should hire an attorney as you will generally do better with one than trying to represent yourself.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C.
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C. | Kenneth Wincorn
    It is always advisable. This is a theft offense and can cause many problems in the future if it is on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Sifuentes & Locke
    Sifuentes & Locke | Shannon Willis Locke
    Yes get a lawyer. Having a theft conviction on your record is potentially damaging. You need to hire a lawyer to make sure that nothing goes on your record. These cases are not very difficult so, usually, lawyers are willing to work them out for reasonable rates.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Aaronson Law Firm
    Aaronson Law Firm | Michael Aaronson
    You should have an attorney to advise you as to the consequences of a conviction, as theft is a crime of "moral turpitude" which may affect your ability to get a job later on. Attorney can work out the best possible result which will help you in the long run.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Law Office of Ronald Aronds, LLC
    Law Office of Ronald Aronds, LLC | Ronald Aronds
    Theft, even if it is only $50.00, is a serious charge that could result in you having a criminal record, paying high fines, and potentially even jail time
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    If you want to avoid a criminal record, that is an excellent idea.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Whether you hire an attorney is a decision that is entirely up to you. Hiring an attorney is not a guarantee that you will get off or the consequences will be less. An attorney is there to protect your rights and answer your questions.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Giannini Law Office, PC
    Giannini Law Office, PC | Robert Giannini
    I believe you do need an attorney. If you wish to plead not guilty and fight the charge there will be a trained attorney for the other side trying to convict you. And, if you don't want a trial, an attorney may be able to show you another option to avoid a conviction without going to trial.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Theft is a crime of moral turpitude. You do not want a conviction. You want to get it dismissed, even if it means after a deferred prosecution. Hire a lawyer to help guide you.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco | Victor J Mazzaraco
    Your life and the word will go o whether or not you have an attorney for your theft case. But the question really is: How important is getting the best possible outcome in the case to you? I'd suggest you need an attorney if you have a job which will be threatened if you are convicted of the charge. What is your criminal history? Are there any probation concerns or violations? Basically, what penalties are you exposed to? Know this before making a decision.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    Yes.The dollar amount is not the most significant factor in deciding whether to hire an attorney. Theft conviction can lead to damaging your reputation, criminal record, and could lead to denial of employment opportunities.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC | Louis Leibowitz
    Yes, you need a lawyer. Being convicted of theft can have serious and unforeseen consequences. Just because it was a small amount of merchandise doesn't mean the prosecutor and judge won't take the matter seriously.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/26/2011
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    Dear Sir/Madam - If it was your first time being arrested, no. The State will probably offer you a Pre-Trial Intervention program that involves going to petit theft school and some supervision. When you complete the program, they drop the charges. You really shouldn't need to hire a lawyer if this was your first time. Of course, some people feel more comfortable having a lawyer with them.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    While theft of less than $50 can be an infraction, typically the DA charges a misdemeanor petty theft. You're looking at an offense that carries up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of a thousand dollars. Beyond that, a theft conviction can severely impact your ability to get a job in the future. Yes, you need an attorney - either one you choose or a public defender if you cannot afford one. (You'll never know if you can afford the attorney you want until you sit down, discuss the facts and fees).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. You need a criminal attorney. An attorney can spot weaknesses in the case that you would never see and knows how to navigate the system and comply with all procedures. Also, the prosecutor will probably not speak with you directly so no plea bargaining will happen unless you have a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    Yes, obviously.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/7/2013
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    This would be petty theft and a burglary if it was from a store or building. Realizing that if found guilty you will have this on your record forever and it may affect your ability to find employment dont you think it would be unwise not to have an attorney? The cost of an attorney is well worth not having this on your record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You certainly do, unless you're okay with having a petty theft on your record. Theft, even a petty one, is a crime of moral turpitude, and if you have one you can say goodbye to any kind of meaningful employment in the next decade of your life.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine | Jerry Lee Wallentine Jr.
    Yes. It's a midemeanor which will go on your criminal record. Additionally, there is significant jail time which is within the judge's discretion.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    You have the right to appear on your own behalf but the prospect of keeping this off your record are substantially better if you hire an attorney. The defense attorney would likely start representation by entering a plea of "not guilty". You cannot negotiate the best resolution unless you maintain the proper posture of your case.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    It depends upon what you want to accomplish. I am not sure what state you are in. In Washington (where I practice), a theft of $50.00 is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a max of 1 year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. If you have any priors, this could impact a judge's sentence and increase the likelihood that you will do some jail time. From a non criminal point o view: a conviction may well impact your ability to obtain employment, get admission to college, and may prevent you from obtaining scholarship, loans, and financial aid. I would advise you to get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Nixon Ayemi | Nixon Ayeni
    You can proceed yourself but you will be expected to know what to do in your defense, so what I am saying is that it is always up to you if you want to hire a lawyer.ion.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Anytime you face a criminal charge you should have an attorney to represent you, particularly if you are hoping for a favorable disposition to keep your record clean.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Never go to court on a criminal charge without a lawyer. If you can't afford one use the public defender.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    You need to avoid a conviction for shoplifting because it will make it so that you will not be able to get a job even with McDonalds or CVS.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Attorney Paul Lancia
    Attorney Paul Lancia | Paul Lancia
    Yes, you are better off with an attorney than not.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Absolutely get an attorney. Stealing is a crime against moral turpitude. If you are convicted, no one will hire you again. It can change your whole future. Hire the best attorney you can afford.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Since you are charged with a crime, it would be advisable to hire an attorney to represent you, as, if this is your first offense; there are alternative sentences, which will not affect you later in life. A permanent record sticks with you forever.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    That is entirely up to you. If you intend to plead guilty, you can probably handle it without an attorney. However if there are any possible defenses you may wish to assert, it would benefit you to consult with an attorney first.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Pascher Law Firm
    Pascher Law Firm | Sonia Pascher
    The basic answer is yes. However, the severity of the punishment will depend on whether you have a prior record, specifically prior theft convictions and/or if you are currently on probation. If charged with a misdemeanor, you are entitled to a public defender. Although not all PD's are bad, they just don't have the time to "work" your case as would private counsel would.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    One's need for a lawyer depends upon one's confidence, intelligence, cooperativeness, prior record, sophistication, facts & circumstance, restitution, remorse, and how badly one wants to avoid having any record.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    Absolutely! If you want to avoid a theft conviction then you must hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Having a theft conviction on your record will have long lasting consequences including disqualifying you from future employment opportunities and/or the denial of any kind of professional license. As such, you should never attempt to defend yourself on a theft charge or any criminal charge for that matter.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Charles J. Block
    Law Office of Charles J. Block | Charles J. Block
    That is up to you as you will have a disorderly persons offense on your record if you plead or are found guilty and you will not be able to expunge the charge off of your record for at least 5-years.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You need to be a good decision maker. Life is about making good decisions and shoplifting is a very foolish decision. You are risking your reputation, a criminal record, any chance of getting a good job or career, your family name, and all for $50. The fact that you would have to ask if you need an attorney also shows that you are young, uneducated, and naive. Anyone who is charged with a crime should retain a good criminal attorney to get the best possible results under the circumstances. In your case, any good lawyer can get the case dismissed and you will not have any criminal record. A public defender does not always get the best results, but if you are indigent the court will appoint an attorney to handle the case. Young people steal from stores, smoke pot in cars or on the street, get into fights, use false ID, and commit all kinds of crimes because they are not thinking straight. They do not understand that getting a good education and a good job will determine their success, and getting arrested can hurt their chances of getting into the best schools or getting a good job or career. Never say or do anything that you would not want on the front page of tomorrows newspaper and follow the Golden Rule. Then you will have a better chance of success and happiness.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    The answer depends on whether or not you are indigent. You have the right to the attorney of your choosing as long as you are paying for the attorney. If you are found to be indigent by the court, you are entitled to a public defender; however, you are pretty much stuck with whomever the court assigns to you. Hiring an attorney may be worth your while. You are likely facing Petit Larceny charges, a class A misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and $1000 fine. An experienced attorney should be able to get this reduced to no criminal record and possibly get all the charges dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    While it may not be absolutely necessary, it's not a bad idea. If nothing else, it should give you peace of mind and be comforting to know that someone experienced with the process and the system is helping you navigate along. You may be eligible for a diversion program that would keep the conviction off of your public record. At least have an attorney review the police report before agreeing to plead to anything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Baner and Baner
    Baner and Baner | Jonathan Baner
    Almost certainly so. All crimes should have criminal defense attorneys on it. If you can get a public defender that would be cost savings. The problem is that a conviction stays for a long time and negatively impacts you throughout your life (sort of). The actual penalties for a first time theft in third degree is up to a year in jail, but probably lower.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    That's up to you. It may be that you can get diversion or some other minor disposition without an attorney. You may also attempt to do a Compromise of Misdemeanor if this is a first offense. That said, an attorney would probably come in handy when seeking either of these minimal outcomes. An attorney is essential if this is not a first offense and in any case, an attorney can help guide you through this difficult situation and hopefully lessen the impact of a conviction for theft.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Theft is a gross misdemeanor with a possible penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000.00 fine. You need an attorney to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Depends on what outcome you would like the opportunity to achieve.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/3/2013
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    I would highly recommend it as it may be possible to get this case dismissed or reduced to an infraction. You want to avoid having a misdemeanor on your record if possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
    It is always a good idea. Because the amount is low, you may be able to get away with an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
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