Should a lawyer represent me if I was caught stealing? 52 Answers as of June 10, 2013

I stole from a national retailer and got caught, I wasn't arrested, but they did set a court date. I have never been in trouble like this in my life, but I wonder if a lawyer going in my place is better than me going.

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Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
Yes, without a doubt. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/10/2013
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You should hire an attorney to either negotiate a favorable plea or go to trial.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/24/2011
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
I always think you should have a lawyer represent you in court since so much can go wrong. However, if it's a first offense, then you may be able to go in the first time and see if they will let you enter a program for first offenders and get the case dismissed afterward. Speak to a local lawyer about that. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/23/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
Your question is riddled with misunderstandings about the criminal justice process. First you state that you were not arrested. Just because you were not cuffed and brought to the precinct does not mean you have not been arrested. You were charged with Petit Larceny and you must retain an attorney or have one appointed if you are indigent. You must appear even if you have an attorney, you do not have the option of appearing by attorney unless the court allows a waiver of your appearance because you live far away. That is usually just for violations and traffic matters, not misdemeanors. Just the fact that you would ask if you need an attorney leads me to believe that you would benefit from a good education, good communication skills, and a better understanding of morality, ethics, and the importance of a good reputation in the community. If you get a criminal conviction for shoplifting it will be very difficult to get a job and you will be labeled a thief in the community. Anyone can see your criminal record online and this will hurt your reputation. If this was your first conviction you will be given an ACD delayed dismissal and the case will be dismissed in 6 months unless you get arrested again. You will be given a second chance to improve your decision making and turn your life around. This will require a lot of study and hard work but it will be worth it in the long run. I hope you are smart enough to take good advice. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/23/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
If you have a court date for a charge of stealing you have been arrested. A conviction for theft of property (stealing) is a crime involving moral turpitude with serious consequences. A record of a conviction for this charge can be permanent and can have an affect on you for the rest of your life.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/23/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    When facing criminal charges it is always advisable to hire a lawyer to represent you. An attorney will know how to negotiate on your behalf with prosecutors as well as how to plead in a manner so as to receive the least severe sentence and/or charges possible in your case.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Justin Jones Attorney at Law, PLLC
    Justin Jones Attorney at Law, PLLC | Justin Blaine Jones
    Yes. You should seek legal representation immediately. Not only will you be facing the criminal charges, you may very well be receiving notification that the retailer is seeking civil penalties as well. You will need an attorney to help you handle this situation.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    That may depend on whether the court involved has a diversion program. If they do, you would have to sign a confession, waive your right to speedy trial, waive your right to any meaningful trial. You would also have to agree for the facts in the police report to be admissible. If you can go through diversion, it is a one-year program; you will have to pay the filing fee for the criminal case and pay some sort of monthly maintenance fee. You may also be required to attend a class on theft. As long as you play their game and stay out of trouble during the year, the case would be dismissed. If you refuse to go along with the requirements of diversion or have a new offense, you will be brought to court, be found guilty and receive a sentence. So the key to succeeding in diversion is to recognize they have complete control over your case and simply play their game according to their rules. However, if you are ineligible for diversion, or decide against it, you could probably work out a plea deal that would not include jail. If you took less than $250 in goods, you would be looking at a misdemeanor. AS long as you plead guilty under the terms offered by the prosecutor, you can withdraw your guilty plea after five (5) years of law-abiding behavior and pay all your fines and restitution. On the other hand, if you stole more than $250 in goods, you will be looking at a C class felony. As long as you jump through all of the hoops they put before you, you could withdraw your plea after three (3) years of good behavior and after all your costs and fees are paid off. Often times, an attorney is helpful in these two scenarios. We speak the language of the court and the prosecutor. We normally have a good working relationship with the prosecutor's office so we can roll up our sleeves and resolve things to your benefit. Then if you wish to contest the charges and go to trial, you must have an attorney. If you find yourself in any of these situations, I encourage you to give me a call. Finally, should you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    While you can represent yourself in court, an attorneys help would be advisable. An attorney is well experienced in dealing with the preparation and or negotiations to help you resolve this charge in the way that will benefit you most.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Yes. You describe yourself as being guilty. However, it is not very important what you know, it is only important what facts the DA can prove. Just because you think your guilty does not mean you should roll over and plead guilty. Hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    Yes, I would recommend retaining an attorney for this matter. You should carefully review your paperwork and contact the court if you do not know what specifically what you were charged with. You may have been given a ticket which would list what you were charged with. If you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, you may need to turn yourself in to be arraigned. If you were charged with a civil infraction, you only have a short period of time to request a hearing; otherwise they will issue a judgment against you for the amount requested. 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. This response does not contain specific legal advice. If you need specific legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. 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. 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.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    It is always best to get advice from someone familiar with something that you have no experience with. In legal matters, it is always best to hire an attorney so that you know what your choices are and so you can make the best decisions for yourself. In general, you may be in a position to consider a plea or a trial. Certain pleas can involve the matter not being on your record. It will depend on the circumstances of your case and the Court where your case is pending. This information can be provided by the attorney you hire. I hope that this was helpful. If in need of representation, you may contact my office to arrange an appointment.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    I would hire an attorney. Might be able to negotiate a more favorable disposition than just standing in front of a judge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    If there is a court date you were arrested. The fact that you were not taken into custody does not mean you were not arrested. Petit Larceny is a very serious crime, a class "A" misdemeanor in New York, carrying a jail term of up to one year. You need a lawyer to represent you, and we can do that for you. We can be reached toll free for a no cost, no obligation phone consultation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    It is always a good idea to have an attorney on your case if you are charged with a crime (even if you think you are guilty). An attorney may, via his or her training and experience, be able to find some sort of legal issue that you don't know about. Attorneys also generally have more experience negotiating with the State's lawyer (and thus may be able to get you a "better deal.". For this reason and for the simple fact that DAs usually prefer to deal with lawyers unrepresented people are often at a disadvantage when they deal directly with the state.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    You should get a lawyer. (You probably still need to go to your court date).
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Usually, a lawyer can't go to court instead of someone. We usually go to court with our clients. You have to go, and you need to go with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    The state has charged you if you have a court date. I would advise talking to a lawyer, most initial consultations are free of charge. The first court appearance is normally an arraignment where you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Most lawyers will talk to you if you call them.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Allan & Summary
    Allan & Summary | Justin Summary
    You need an attorney. With no prior criminal history you should make every effort to avoid a conviction being placed on your permanent record. You will need an attorney to help you with that.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    If you want to avoid a conviction your best defense is to hire a lawyer. I would be happy to provide a free consult.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Law Office of Michael Moody
    Law Office of Michael Moody | Michael Moody
    You need an attorney immediately. If you get any type of theft conviction on your record, forget ever finding any decent paying job for the rest of your life. You will literally be un-employable. A lawyer may be able to get you in a pre-trial program that will eventually result in a dismissal. Any criminal conviction for a crime involving dishonesty is a kiss of death for any employment future.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    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. We can assist you in making sure that your record is not affected.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Yes, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to help you and you both will have to go to court to face the charge. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    First, a lawyer cannot go in your place. You will need to appear at various court dates. A lawyer, on the other hand, can advise you of your rights and make sure that your rights are protected. However, it is everyone's right to represent themselves in court. It is not a requirement that you have a lawyer. The prosecuting attorney, who represents the people, is an attorney and that is who you will have to deal with. For more information, contact us.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/20/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    You should have a lawyer. If you can't afford one, the court will provide one. There are a few circumstances where not having a lawyer won't be a big deal. For instance, some courts offer a standard deal where, if yo do community service, the charges are dismissed. A lawyer would probably advise you to take that deal, if it's an option. But a lawyer will be able to tell you more about the risks and the consequences. If you don't have a lawyer and make a bad choice, you're probably stuck with whatever happens.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, you should have a lawyer or at least get a lawyer's advice before you represent yourself. You may have the Public Defender free of charge if you can't afford an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Anytime you are charged with a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor, I think it is always better to be represented by counsel. The system is too complex and complicated for someone not trained or experienced to handle it. You should at least get an experienced criminal attorney to review the evidence against you such as the police report and any surveillance video for any errors or deficiencies that could get the charges reduced or dismissed. They can also walk you through the process and tell you what to expect and what your options are. It is advisable that you seek out an attorney. Always consult with an attorney before agreeing to plead guilty to anything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Yes get an attorney to assist you. This is their job and if you are being charged with a crime you should have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    It is always better to have an attorney. You and your attorney can then decide when you should appear in court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    It's always smarter to have a skilled and experienced attorney represent you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    If you have a court date, then you were most likely charge with some crime or you were sued. In the event you were charged with a crime, it is almost universally better to have an attorney on your side. It is of course, your right to choose to have an attorney or not and have yourself be the attorney, but it is unlikely you can provide yourself objective advice. You should hire an experienced attorney quickly.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You still have to go to court to face your charges, but having a lawyer is an excellent decision. There are first offender programs that we can arrange for you. Contact me to get started.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    Of course my opinion is biased, since I earn a living by representing people. That said, you have no prior experience with the criminal justice system or in the Courtroom. You do not the law, nor know what is possible regarding possible resolutions of your case. If you can afford an attorney, then you should start speaking to a few local, experienced ones. Shop around and find a reasonable price. You might consider requesting that the Public Defender be appointed if you qualify financially. Do not just roll over and plead guilty. Though shoplifting is a very minor crime, it is still a crime of moral turpitude, as a misdemeanor. It could come back to haunt you. Push for an infraction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Yes you should have attorney . A lawyer can deal with the DA. How much was involved. Call or email me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    I assume this is in Oregon. If you have a court date, you were arrested. The citation you received setting the date for a court appearance is verification of your arrest, he just decided to cite you instead of taking you to jail. You must appear if you were charged with a crime. Depending on the value of what was taken, you could be charged with a minor theft III on up to much worse charges. Since this is your first go around with the courts, I would suggest you at least consult with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Lisa Mulligan Law Offices, LLC
    Lisa Mulligan Law Offices, LLC | Lisa Mulligan
    If you've got a court date, you need to show up for that and if you don't bring your own lawyer, the Court will probably assign a public defender to your case. It's great that you don't have any prior criminal history, and your lawyer will be able to tell you more about your options after he or she looks over the details of the allegations against you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    You were arrested, just not booked. You were instead cited into court. When charged with a misdemeanor, you potentially face up to 6-12 months in jail on each count. However, effective plea-bargaining, using whatever legal defenses, facts and sympathies there may be, could possibly keep you out of jail, or at least dramatically reduce it, depending upon all the facts. Not exactly a do it yourself project in court for someone who does not know how to effectively represent himself against a professional prosecutor intending to convict. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion program, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You do not make clear why you have the court date. Were you charged with a crime? Is it a civil suit, where the victim of your theft is suing you for recovery of the property or money? You do not make it clear what your status is. I would suggest you retain an attorney before that court date, he will be in a batter position to know what to do, as you can provide him with all the proper information, which you have not done in your inquiry here.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    Absolutely, and here is why. First, you should avoid a theft conviction at all costs as a theft conviction will have long lasting and potentially devastating consequences including disqualifying you from future employment opportunities, loss of current employment and denial of professional licenses. Second, avoiding a conviction and/or obtaining the best possible result for your case is only best served with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Ultimately, what is possible for your case depends on the facts and circumstances involved. I hope this answer was helpful. If you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, I would be happy to do so. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Unless you plan on representing yourself (horrible idea on so many levels), yes, you'll need a criminal defense attorney that routinely practices in the court where your case will be heard. Start searching now, well in advance of your court date. There may be things they suggest to get you in a better position for a good outcome in court. The added benefit is that your attorney can appear on your behalf. It won't send any sort of negative message if you're not there. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Of course. You going to court by yourself simply guarantees that you will be convicted of petty theft, a crime of moral turpitude that will haunt your record for years. And don't forget, without a lawyer arguing on your behalf, the Judge might, without considering any of the legal factors, set bail or take you in custody!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    It always makes sense to at least call and consult with a lawyer in your area to see if they think they can help and do better than you can do for yourself.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq.
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq. | Kelly Broadbent
    I would strongly recommend talking to an attorney and discussing the case for possible outcomes in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of William S. Smith
    Law Office of William S. Smith | William S. Smith
    You unequivocally should retain a criminal defense attorney to represent you. Even if your inclination is to resolve your case by plea or admission, you should absolutely not make any such decision until you have first hired a lawyer. A qualified lawyer will be able to review the discovery provided to him by the prosecutors and then make a determination as to any legal defenses you may have (regardless of how strong the case may be against you factually). Also, there may be grounds for the lawyer to research, write and file a motion to dismiss, or to suppress evidence, for instance. Only a qualified, experienced defense attorney can make these determinations and pursue these avenues on your behalf, where applicable. Lastly, you have to appear with your lawyer in court. Hiring one will not excuse your presence, at least not unless the judge specifically grants a lawyer's request for his client's presence to be waived at one or more of the court proceedings.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    A lawyer is recommended but not required. A lawyer can get you a better deal usually than you can yourself.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    In a criminal case, you would normally have to appear for a court date with your lawyer. A theft can cause problems getting employment and public housing and a lot of lawyers do free initial consultations so it may be wise to get (if you can) a copy of the police report and schedule an appointment with a criminal defense lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Law Office of Michael Brodsky
    Law Office of Michael Brodsky | Michael Brodsky
    Its always advantageous to have a lawyer. You may be able to resolve the case without a criminal conviction. *Please note that this is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post represents only the posters opinion. You should speak to an attorney for further information. The poster is licensed only in the State of Washington. For more information about our law firm and services, please visit our website.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/19/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    If you have a court date you were arrested unless you are being sued civilly which seems unlikely. It sounds like you need to go but you should retain counsel if you can. I am a former federal and state prosecutor and now handle criminal defense do feel free to contact me if you wish to retain an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/19/2011
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