How should I defend myself against retail fraud? 6 Answers as of June 20, 2011

I'm 21 and I was arrested for taking 53.00 worth of make-up from Walmart. Is there anyway I can keep this from going on my record? I've literally never been in trouble with the law before.

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Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
You need to have an attorney represent you to see what is available in your Court. It is possible that there is a First Offender Program, or you may be eligible for a 771.1 plea. Alternatively, you may need to wait 5 years after the conviction to seek an expungement. I hope that this was helpful.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/20/2011
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. Anyone allegedly involved should carefully review any paperwork they received prior to being released and contact the court if they not know if they were ultimately charged with anything or what specifically they are being charged with. The applicable charges have a huge impact on the potential long term consequences. Anyone charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty. In certain situations, police officers may arrive at the location of the store and meet with the person allegedly involved. If the person is potentially being charged with a more serious offense, they are usually taken into custody and arraigned. If the charges appear to be less severe, police officers may also issue a ticket and release the person from the location of the store. This ticket would list what the person is being charged with. If the person was charged with a misdemeanor, they would need to turn themselves in at the court noted on the ticket to be arraigned. If the person is being charged with a civil infraction, they only have a short period of time to request a hearing; otherwise the court will issue a money judgment against the charged individual for the amount requested. In some instances, an investigating police officer will not issue anything nor take anyone into custody at that time; instead, they will go back and perform more investigative work prior to requesting any charges. Occasionally, after an investigation, the police and local prosecutor will elect not to pursue charges. However, even if a person is immediately released from the store after the initial investigation, they may ultimately be charged with something. It all depends on their particular, unique circumstances. If a person allegedly stole something from a store, they may be charged with anything from a misdemeanor or civil infraction to felonies counts, depending on the factors and depending on what the prosecutor could potentially prove. A person's prior criminal history, especially if they have prior theft convictions, may result in enhanced charges. In some limited instances, the store-owners or employees may not bother to get the police involved; however, a majority of large discount retailers (i.e., Sams-Club, Target, Costco, etc.) usually request police involvement with every allegation of theft. Given the possible consequences for a conviction and given the wide range of potential charges, it is especially important to obtain the guidance of an experienced defense attorney for these types of charges. 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: 6/16/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
Upon conviction, the matter will become part of your permanent criminal record. The question of how to defend depends on whether you have a defense. This would best be explored with the help of an attorney knowledgeable in criminal law. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court would appoint one for you. The fact that you do not have a criminal record will not make this matter simply go away.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/15/2011
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
If you want to keep it off your record, then you should ask the prosecutor at your pretrial conference about a "diversion program." If eligible, the charge will not appear on your public permanent record if you successfully complete community service and any other requirements they assign you. However, it may be a good idea to at least have a criminal attorney review the police report and evidence to see if there is any errors that could get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/15/2011
Noah A. Bradow, Attorney & Counselor, pllc
Noah A. Bradow, Attorney & Counselor, pllc | Noah A. Bradow
Sounds like you might be a good candidate for diversion. If you are unrepresented by an attorney, you should speak with the prosecutor and ask about their diversion program.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/15/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Get an attorney. He or She could possibly get you into a program or delay of sentence, that if you comply with the conditions that they set could result in no record. This sort of thing is usually only available to first time offenders.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/15/2011
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