Does a person need an attorney to go to court with them for a shoplifting offense? 59 Answers as of June 23, 2013

What are the fines and consequences for an adult's first arrest for shoplifting of $43.00. Is it necessary to hire an attorney?

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You should ( not mandatory ) hire an attorney because you will generally get a better plea bargain or acquital or dismissal if you have an attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/20/2011
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: 10/5/2011
Law Offices of Sean Logue
Law Offices of Sean Logue | Sean Logue
It is not necessary, but I highly recommend it.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 6/23/2013
Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
A person does not need an attorney for a shoplifting offense. The charge is Larceny in the Sixth degree. The court considers many factors when determining the appropriate disposition of a case. Prior criminal record and the exact charge are important factors. An experienced criminal attorney will assist in obtaining the best outcome possible.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 9/19/2011
Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
I would strongly advise you to hire an attorney. The attorney may be able to defend the charge against you or at least negotiate a plea bargain that will avoid a conviction being entered upon your record. I have handled many such cases in the thirty-three years that I have been practicing law, and I might be able to help you.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 9/15/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    It is not required that you have one, but many in that position have felt it comforting and reassuring to have one for a number of reasons. It gives them peace of mind that an experienced professional is handling the matter since many in that situation don't quite know what to expect. Also, a defense attorney may be aware of certain programs or options that you might otherwise not be aware of and an attorney will be able to evaluate the evidence against you and determine how strong of a case they have against you. For you first offense, I would expect a diversion program which will help keep it off your public record if you successfully complete it. Standard probation would probably be the worst case scenario. You will have to pay restitution and possibly up to $200 in civil penalties.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/14/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Shoplifting (theft of property 3d) is a crime involving moral turpitude. The conviction is a permanent record with you for the rest of your life. An attorney may have a chance to keep you from having this record. To have an attorney or not is your decision.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/14/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    It is always best to have an attorney if you can afford one. If you had a tooth that needed to be pulled, you would go to a dentist as opposed to pulling it yourself! An attorney can make you aware of rights and options that you may not be aware of. I suggest you consult an experienced Criminal Defense attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/14/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    In general, its a good idea. Without an attorney its like playing a game of monopoly without knowing the rules. And the only people you can ask, like the Prosecutor, Police, or even the judge, each have their own agenda in mind. I suppose that it could work out ok, or it could be a butt kicking. It is always best to have someone with you who knows what the rules are. Its sort of like the decision to hire a guide to cross the sand scorched desert. Is it a good idea to hire one? Well, lots of travelers could tell you about how they did it without a guide. But the person who got bit by a scorpion or who got trapped in quicksand, or who ran into the bandits, well . . . they wish that they had hired a guide to avoid the problems. So when it comes to hiring an attorney, its up to you. But it is well advised, if at least to avoid bandits, quicksand, and scorpions. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/14/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    It is always advisable to retain counsel for any criminal case, including theft of a small amount. You could face jail time, although this is highly unlikely. But, if a first time offender, you want to try and keep this off your permanent record, in Illinois there are ways to do this, so hire a lawyer to negotiate the best deal for you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/14/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. You need an attorney. The maximum penalties are pretty severe but you won't face them unless you have a prior criminal record. Consult with an attorney right away.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Fine could be $500 and/or 90 days jail. I would say you need an attorney if you want to avoid a convictions on your record for the rest of your life.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    You probably don't need an attorney. However, if they do not offer you a special deal called a deferred judgment, you may want to consider hiring one.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Shoplifting is considered a commercial burglary and for a first offence is normally a misdemeanor. If convicted or if you plead guilty you will most likely be given three years of unsupervised probation, a fine and a stay away from the store order. This on your record can result in your deportation if you are not a citizen of the U.S. and can keep you from getting some jobs. At the very least you need to contact an attorney for a consultation before you do anything on this case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    If this is the first offense for Theft of Property in the 3rd degree, then the person is looking at fines and court costs.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should always have an attorney when you appear in court. A shoplifting conviction will hurt your chances of getting a good job or career. It is important to make good decisions in life because their are always consequences to your actions. If it is your first offense you will get an ACD dismissal if you retain a good criminal attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    D T Pham Associates, PLLC
    D T Pham Associates, PLLC | Duncan T Pham
    A lawyer would be able to negotiate a way to keep you from getting a criminal record of theft.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Anyone can represent themselves in court if they are knowledgeable about the law and criminal procedure. There is no universal standard punishment for retail fraud third and it can vary from court to court. The worst you could get is 93 days in jail.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Anderson Law Office
    Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
    It is important to have an attorney for this type of case. You do not want this type of offense on your record and an attorney may be able to keep it off your record. Please contact me at 763-422-8664 and we can discuss your options fully.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers | Alexander Sanchez
    Yes. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor. You are facing a criminal record, fines, jail probation, community service, employment related problems, licensing issues, and a whole host of other problems. Play it safe. Bite the bullet. Hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    The consequences of a conviction for shoplifting - a crime of moral turpitude - are long and far reaching. Generally it is advisable to have a lawyer with you at any level charge. If you cannot afford one, be sure that you take nothing more than a deferred prosecution aka deferred disposition - this is essentially a reset with conditions. If you fulfil the conditions, don't get into any additional trouble including traffic tickets, when you return to court the case will be dismissed and you can later expunge it off your record.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Watkins Law Office
    Watkins Law Office | Bob Watkins
    It's always best to have a qualified attorney review any case. That doesn't mean in every case having an attorney will make a difference. The maximum penalty for a shoplifting, if charged as a class A misdemeanor, is 12 months in jail and a $2000 fine.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    What you have described is a petit theft which is a misdemeanor. If this is your first arrest the Court most likely will allow you to enter into a misdemeanor pretrial intervention program. Basically, its your free bite at the apple. If you enter into the program which will consist of a petit theft class and reporting to a probation officer and you successfully complete it they will "no prosecute" your case. Good Luck
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You are at risk for jail, a criminal record and otherwise a harsher sentence without an attorney. Always a good idea.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    It is a good idea to have an attorney. The attorney can sometimes work out a deal where you have no record. Having a shoplifting conviction can bar you from a lot of jobs.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Any time you face a criminal charge, representation by an attorney is recommended, as any misdemeanor or higher charge is punishable by jail time, and has other potential collateral consequences. That being said, most first-time theft offenses of that amount are treated as petty misdemeanors, which are not considered a criminal conviction, or some other sort of disposition is often available to allow you to maintain a clear record. But having an attorney to accomplish that outcome is a smart choice.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Although theft of under $50 *can* be an infraction, my experience is that the prosecution will file the misdemeanor. That means you're facing a crime that carries 3 years probation, up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Is it necessary to hire an attorney? In every criminal case, you absolutely need an attorney. They can determine if you have factual or legal defenses and advocate on your behalf to try and get the very best outcome possible. That could make the difference between a conviction and a complete dismissal of all charges without a conviction on your record that will haunt you for years to come.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    It is always to your benefit to have an attorney in court but particularly important involving criminal matters. The attorney can negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to reduce the charge, fees, and possibly whether it can be expunged.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    I would always advise against representing yourself in a criminal case. If you are convicted of a shoplifting offense, you will have a misdemeanor conviction on your record open to public view. The conviction will adversely affect your ability to obtain housing and employment. Please hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your future.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    A shoplift is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. If you have no prior criminal history, you will probably get a suspended sentence, which means the judge suspends all jail time on the condition that you do certain things. If you fail to do as the court orders THEN the judge sends you to jail. However, you should consider consequences beyond the legal system. If you are found guilty of this crime, it could prevent you from being hired for a lot of different types of jobs, where trust is an issue or handling money (like even working in a fast food restaurant). A conviction may also prevent you from getting into certain colleges, and disqualify you from student loans, grants, and scholarships. Hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Up to 12 months in jail, a fine of $1,000, and a bunch of special conditions of the sentence. You need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    I'm not sure where you are getting this information. Shoplifting is at a minimum Theft in the Third Degree. The maximum penalty is 365 days in jail and a $10,000 fine if you are convicted. If you are being offered some kind of diversion or informal deal, make sure that it is in writing and signed by a prosecutor. Otherwise, the state could charge you even after the "informal resolution" has been completed. Naturally, it is important that you consult an attorney and that he or she reviews all of the evidence before you should agree to any disposition of this case to ensure that the state has a case and that there are no legal, procedural or factual defenses. Otherwise, you may be signing on for more than you understand and perhaps should not agree to. At the very least, you need to be confident that you understand the whole deal; including the legal ramifications and that you understand and appreciate what will happen if you violate the terms of the agreement, i.e. can you be prosecuted criminally?
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Riana Durrett
    When someone is charged with an offense that could result in jail time then the defendant is entitled to an attorney. Whether or not the shoplifting could result in jail time depends on what charges are filed against the defendant. For example, in Nevada, a defendant could be charged with something as serious as burglary or relatively minor, such as disturbing the peace. Again, if the charge could involve jail time then the defendant is entitled to an attorney and one will be provided if the defendant cannot afford one. Of course it's almost always advisable to have an attorney in any criminal case and my office would be happy to provide a free consultation in the case.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    It's always best to have an attorney because they may be able to help you understand the nuances of the law. For example, pleading "no contest" will leave you with a record. If you do not have the funds to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney, ask the office f the Public Defender in your county whether you qualify for their services. Good luck,
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    This is one of those cases where you could use the public defender and probably be fine. The total fines and fees will probably be around $600.00 total. Keep in mind that if you get two more petty thefts, the next one can be charged as a felony.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/13/2011
    Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law
    Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law | Glenn M. Sowa
    If you have to ask the question, "Do I need an attorney", you probably do need an attorney. Although the offense may seem trivial to you, shoplifting items worth $43.00 is still punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail, and in some instances it can be enhanced to a felony. You don't want to defend yourself on something this serious.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    It will not ordinarily need a defense lawyer, but it makes things easier and there is no chance for a problem arising if you have an attorney. Depending upon which county you've been arrested in, it can make a big difference. I suggest you at least speak to an attorney who has free initial consultations just to get a full understanding of what could happen to you and how things are likely to go down. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    It is always wise to be represented by experienced counsel. 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.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    In your case, I would recommend it. The small amount of theft and ack of record mght result in a beter deal than you would otherwise get just standing in front of the judge alone. Worth the money.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Offices of David L. Smith
    Law Offices of David L. Smith | David Lee Smith
    Do you need a doctor the first time you get a minor knife wound or concussion? It depends, so many things to ask and answer before one could say whether you should take a misdemeanor charge or not. You will be appointed a public defender if you cant afford to hire an attorney. If you want to protect yourself and you don't mind paying, then its well worth it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    You should always hire an attorney if you have the means to do so. Attorneys have the specific ability to analyze cases which may result in a reduction of penalty or complete dismissal.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Of course you need an attorney. Petty theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and it will prevent you from obtaining any meaningful employment in the next decade of your life. It is foolish to go to court by yourself on something that could impact the next decade of your life.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Anderson Walsh PLLC
    Anderson Walsh PLLC | STACI LYNN ANDERSON
    I would always recommend having an attorney with you when you go to court. Your attorney can review the States evidence to see if you have any defenses or other pre-trial motions that can be filed on your behalf. And your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor who may not be inclined to give you, a Pro se defendant, and the deal that your attorney can get for you. If you cannot afford to hire a competent defense attorney, at least apply for the public defenders services. A theft charge will come back to haunt you later in life when you are looking for work, a place to live, etc. So having an attorney with you is always the best advice.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Absolutely! Shoplifting is a crime of moral turpitude. A conviction could preclude any future employment opportunities. You must hire an attorney and the best one you can afford.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    If you like finding a job you will take an attorney to court with you to try to avoid your getting a shoplifting conviction which will bar you from getting many jobs, including one at CVC.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | Melissa Hoffman
    A first shoplifting offense carries with it a fine of $250.00. Subsequent offenses carry higher penalties, including up to 2 1/2 years in prison. I strongly recommend consulting with an attorney on all legal matters, even the seemingly minor ones. There may be facts that complicate what seems like a simple matter, which could result in additional charges being brought against you.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    Experience shows that it is usually better to have an attorney. If you cannot afford a private attorney, please remember that public defenders are attorneys, too. You have to be very good to get hired by the PD office. Defendants who represent themselves are often not aware of the defenses available to them. If there are weaknesses in the prosecution's case, there may be an opportunity to get the case reduced to a lesser charge such as trespassing. The consequences for petty theft include more than just the fine and possible jail time. Petty theft is a crime of moral turpitude which results in job application problems. It can also be used as a prior which causes more problems if it happens again.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Although no one is forced to have an attorney handle their case, it is strongly advisable. There is a lot of variables that depend on each case and Court, but a Petty Theft can carry a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine + penalty assessment. If this is your first ever arrest, I certainly would not worry about getting the maximum penalty by any stretch of the imagination, but an Attorney can help minimize consequences associated with this arrest. You can contact me through Philhachelaw.com to discuss your case in more detail. Further, it may be possible to get the misdemeanor charge reduced to an infraction or dismissed. I have been very successful in getting this result in Petty theft cases.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Office of David Baum
    Law Office of David Baum | David M. Baum
    Not absolutely required, but always a good idea to have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes you need an attorney and we can represent you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    The maximum sentence is 364 days in jail and a 5000.00 fine. You need an attorney and you should try to get the charge dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    You never have to hire an attorney. If you can't afford one, you can get the Public Defender. Usually for a first time petty theft you can do an anti-theft class and then get a reduction to an infraction or even a dismissal.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    You should at least talk to a lawyer. If you just go plead guilty, you will have a theft offense on your record forever. A lawyer might be able to get you into some type of diversion program that could allow you to get your record expunged.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    It is not necessary for you to have an attorney. You can choose to handle this case on your own if you feel competent to do so. If you are representing yourself, you will not get any legal advice from the prosecutor as he is the attorney representing the State. A first offense will most likely result in a fine, court costs and probation. You might also ask the prosecutor if this would qualify for a diversion. A diversion could resolve the charge against you and not result in a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Ramsell & Associates LLC
    Ramsell & Associates LLC | Donald Ramsell
    A person can go to court without an attorney. However, the person bears the risk of receiving a permanent record, where hiring an attorney may avoid a permanent stain.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/12/2011
    Allan & Summary
    Allan & Summary | Justin Summary
    Yes, you will definitely need an attorney. You do not want to just walk in and pay a fine because a fine in considered a conviction and it will permanently remain on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/12/2011
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