Is it necessary to hire a lawyer if I don't want my shoplifting case to go to court? 2 Answers as of July 05, 2011

My boyfriend and I were caught shoplifting from a Walmart. I stole about 15 dollars worth of merchandise. I would like for it to not go to court because I have a clean record. I haven't even ever been pulled over. I'm 18. I would need a cheap lawyer because I'm too ashamed to tell my mother. And I fell like I should be responsible for my mistake. So is a lawyer a must? And is there a way to get a free lawyer? Please please help

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Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
You are only entitled to a free attorney if the State is seeking jail time. Since you are a first time offender, I doubt that is the case. Typically, the prosecutor will simply ask you to plead guilty and pay a fine. If you do so, then you are taking a conviction on your record. If that is all the prosecutor will offer to you, then yes, you should indicate that you want a lawyer. Also, be aware that you cannot get this crime expunged later if you plead guilty; that only works for DWIs and MIPs. In all other cases, the prosecutor has to drop the charges before you could get it expunged. There is virtually no chance of that happening without an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 7/5/2011
Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
You should hire an attorney. There is no way to keep this from going to court as you put it, but it can be handled. If you are charged in a Municipal Court, the lawyer should be able to negotiate a plea bargain under which you would avoid a conviction being entered on your record. 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 at a price you can afford. Naturally, everything will be confidential so there is a very good chance that your mother will never have to know. Please feel free to contact me.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 7/5/2011
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