What can happen in court for a first offense of theft? Do I plead guilty or not guilty? 20 Answers as of March 11, 2013

I was caught for stealing and it was my first time. What will happen when I go to court? Do I plead guilty or non guilty?

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Lawrence Lewis
Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
Plead guilty IF you are ready for a conviction on your record, or plead not guilty IF you need the prosecutor to prove to you that you committed the theft.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 3/11/2013
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
Plead NOT guilty. You lose all bargaining power if you plead guilty. Get a lawyer. Something may be worked out for no criminal record. This is huge. A criminal record is forever. What employer wants to hire a thief?
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/11/2013
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq.
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq. | John J. Carney
You will get a public defender and he will try to get an ACD dismissal as it is a first offense. You must consider the consequences of your actions and make better decisions in the future as a criminal record will hurt your chances of getting a decent job for the rest of your life. If you can afford to retain a good lawyer you will have a better chance to get the ACD in a small town. In a big city they are the normal offer if you stole under $150 and have no priors.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 3/8/2013
Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
You never plead guilty without speaking to an attorney about your case. All theft charges have potential jail sentences, even if it's your first time. I suggest that you hire an attorney to represent you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/8/2013
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
That depends. Are you in fact guilty of the offense? It's advisable to plead not guilty at your arraignment or first court appearance so you at least get a Pretrial Conference and a chance to negotiate with the prosecutor. There may be some good options available depending on what type of theft it is. Speak with an experienced criminal attorney in your area for more information.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/8/2013
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You should talk to a lawyer before going to court, and have him come with you to court. He will know how to handle the case. You very well may qualify for some form of court diversion, which would keep you from receiving a conviction which would stay on your record for life. If unable to afford a lawyer, ask the judge for a public defender.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/8/2013
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber | Marshall Tauber
    Enter a not guilty plea and ask to speak with a public defender you can always change your plea from not guilty to guilty but you may not be able to change a guilty plea to not guilty in some courts. Often times the courts have first offender programs that result in no conviction if you are successful on probation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Petty theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and if convicted you can kiss your career aspirations goodbye. Hire a lawyer before you get duped into a plea that you will regret for life.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Not guilty and get an attorney to discuss all possible options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Offices of Laurie A. Schmidt, P.C. | Laurie Schmidt
    The decision to please guilty or not guilty should not be taken lightly and can only be made by you. Theft charges in Colorado range from misdemeanor to felony cases, depending on the amount taken. There could be consequences to a guilty plea outside of what a court will do. You should consult with a local attorney in your area, or a public defender if you qualify to review the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Mari Morrison Attorney at Law | Mari Morrison
    If you do not have a lawyer, you will be appointed one if you are indigent. It all depends on the facts of the case and what your lawyer would recommend. I suggest you listen to your lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    You will appear on the charge and rights read. If eligible to have an attorney take advantage of that. There may be a diversion program available for you. You would need to plead not guilty if asked. That provides time for checking into first time offender or diversion programs.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Get a lawyer and hopefully the charge will be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Your best bet would be to get an attorney, and seek some form of program which would prevent the conviction from being abstracted onto your record. These relatively minor, in your mind, offenses have very significant future implications.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith | Mark L. Smith
    Plead not guilty and try to work out a deal.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    If found guilty, even a first-time offender might be sentenced to serve the maximum time. Also, there can be serious consequences from a criminal conviction, even if you are not sentenced to serve time.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren | Russell A. Warren
    As this is a criminal charge, the judge will normally NOT take a guilty plea from you and he will recommend that you consult an attorney. On your first appear for this type of charge, as with ANY charge, you should plead not guilty BUT then ASK the court politely for a continuance to retain an attorney to represent you. Every Defendant is entitled to ask for a continuance to speak to an attorney and the court will grant you one. This will give you time to find an attorney and consult with him. The benefit of an attorney on these charges is great as they can work to avoid a conviction and potential jail time from being issued against you.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/7/2013
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