What can I do if I have a court date for a theft charge? 65 Answers as of September 20, 2012

I got caught stealing at a store. The merchandise total was about $10. I have a court date on Dec1, 2011. And do not know what I should plea. I didn't get arrested but the officer that wrote me the ticket told me that on my court date I will plea and can then ask for a lawyer to be appointed. I do not want to plea the wrong answer and have this tacked on my record for the rest of my life.

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Law Office of James A Schoenberger
Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
You should plead not guilty. Most counties have diversion programs for low level crimes such as shoplifting and this would keep it off your record. Alternatively, a plea bargain may be reached where you would plead guilty and receive a deferred sentence. If you have stayed out of trouble during the period of deferral (1 or 2 years) the charges are dismissed.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/14/2011
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
You should plead not guilty and hire an attorney unless the District Attorney is willing to drop all criminal charges on the first court date which is unlikely.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/9/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
If this is a Class C (Municipal Court) do not wait for the court date, go to the court location, speak to a clerk and ask if you can take DEFERRED. If the answer is yes, do it. A Deferred Class C can be removed from your record. The cost of removal is about the same (actually less) than a defense lawyer will charge to defend. So, save your money now, use it later to clear the record. If a Deferred is not an option, then speak to a local lawyer who handles criminal matters. DO NOT HIRE A FAMILY LAWYER OR FRIEND, OR NEW LAWYER WHO DOES NOT HANDLE CRIMINAL MATTERS ROUTINELY. The biggest mistake clients make, is assuming all lawyers handle all legal matters. The biggest mistake young lawyers make is to think they can handle all legal matters. This fallacy gets a lot of people into trouble. Lawyers are not like Doctors, we do not have to choose an area of practice. But, it is wise to spend time and effort learning the ins and outs of one or two areas and stick with it. It benefits the lawyer and the clients. So, do yourself a favor, ask your potential lawyer if he/she routinely practices criminal law and if the answer is no or not really, get someone else. If you want to go the extra mile, ask how many cases (criminal) he/she has tried to the bench and how many to jury. You want someone with experience.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 11/9/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You will initially plead not guilty and then discuss your options with your court appointed attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/8/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
Ask the judge to set the hearing over to give you time to consult with an attorney, otherwise if he will not give you more time, plea not guilty and ask for a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 11/7/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    If you are going to ask for an attorney to be appointed or hire your own attorney, enter a plea of not guilty until you can consult with the attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    You want to plead not guilty and get an attorney. The lawyer may be able to work out a deal where you get no record.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Having an attorney represent you is the best advice. There are several ways to keep this off your record, and your case needs to be reviewed to see which of these ways you may be eligible to put in place. Do NOT plead guilty, and do NOT make any statements to the police. Any of these things will be used against you at Court. If your case is in Wayne, Macomb, or Oakland counties, then you may contact my office to arrange an appointment to hire this office. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Offices of Paula Drake
    Law Offices of Paula Drake | Paula Drake
    When you get your public defender, they will advise you. Usually they will plead you not guilty in the beginning, unless they can get a quick resolution. Once they represent you, they will advise you. In the event you do not qualify for court appointed counsel, plead "not guilty" and ask for time to get a private attorney. In a case like yours, provided you have no record, it sounds like something can be worked out for you to keep your record clean. You may be surprised that a private attorney's fees are quite reasonable or that you can work out a payment plan, in the event you have to hire someone. It is better not to try to handle a misdemeanor on your own.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    It sounds as if you are charged with Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and $1000 fine. Given the small value of the merchandise, and depending on your age and your criminal record, if any, an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to work out a plea bargain for you that does not involve any jail time and avoids your having a permanent criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    Privately retain a lawyer to plead Not Guilty and try to get you into a diversionary program to keep your record clean.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    Try to get in to a diversion program so that you can get the case dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Do not enter any plea without speaking to your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    You should have an attorney advise you based on the evidence against you. For such a small amount there is a good possibility that at least the matter should be reduced to a misdemeanor.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Epstein & Conroy
    Epstein & Conroy | David B. Epstein
    Normally, if it' your first time, a decent lawyer should be able to get you an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal), and so long as you take a one day class on the evils of shoplifting the case e will be dismissed six months thereafter. Under this arrangement you would not have to plea to the charge and you would have no record that remains with you in the future.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/5/2011
    Law Office of Nixon Ayemi | Nixon Ayeni
    There are pleas you can make that will remain clear of your record if you complete the requirement.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine | Jerry Lee Wallentine Jr.
    Don't plead guilty without having a criminal defense lawyer completely review everything and seek the best possible outcome for your case.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    They do not appoint lawyers in J.P or municipal courts because there is no chance of incarceration. You must hire a lawyer. You do not want to do anything worse than plead to a deferred prosecution / deferred disposition so that the case can be expunged in the future after successful completion.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C.
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C. | Steven Fairlie
    Contact a good lawyer and let him know all the facts. That is the best way to make sure you are not convicted if you can avoid it.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    In Virginia you are not required to enter a plea before you speak to a lawyer. But if there is no jail time expected then you do not qualify for a free court appointed lawyer and need to hire your own.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Get a lawyer or the public defender. Do not try to handle this yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If you were not arrested and cuffed and had a mug shot taken, you should not have to worry about having a record which is traceable. however, if in doubt as to how to proceeed, ask the judge to appoint a public defender, and he can possibly work out a resolution of the case which will benefit you the most.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
    If you want to come to some plea arrangement, you can actually hire an attorney right now, and have them come to a plea deal with you on your court date. If you cannot afford an attorney, and many attorneys are surprisingly reasonable when it comes to a case like this, then at your hearing, you should plead not guilty, and request that the judge appoint you an attorney to represent you in the matter. If this is your first offense, and for a value as low as $10.00, you should be able to get an ACD offered, which stands for "Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal." This essentially means that if you stay out of trouble for 6 months following your plea, then the charge will be dismissed, and you won't have to deal with this staying on your record.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    bark & karpf
    bark & karpf | peter bark
    Depending on the county where you have to go to court, you may end up with the case being dismissed. When you go to court ask them to appoint a lawyer if you cannot afford to hire one yourself. Do not plead guilty to anything.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    Contact an attorney. Going in by yourself is dangerous and unwise. An attorney will know the best way to fight the case and perhaps get it dismissed, such as through diversion. The failure to address this matter now can have life-long repercussions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    It all depends on facts and your history. If you have no record you may be able to seek diversion or get charge placed on file. If you plea not guilty at arraignment you will have more time to hire a lawyer. I find a lawyer is normally able to avoid a conviction or get a better deal.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Bruce Yerman, Attorney At Law
    Bruce Yerman, Attorney At Law | Bruce Yerman
    You should not plead guilty to anything. Hold out for an "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal" (an "ACD"), unless you can get an outright dismissal.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    You need a criminal attorney. An attorney can spot weaknesses in the case that you would never see and knows how to navigate the system and comply with all procedures. Also, the prosecutor will probably not speak with you directly so no plea bargaining will happen unless you have a lawyer. They will appoint one if you cannot afford it.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Wilson Lafaurie Attorney at Law
    Wilson Lafaurie Attorney at Law | Wilson Lafaurie
    The charges of criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny are the charges that you are most likely facing. Retain an lawyer to protect you from being forced from accepting a permanent criminal record. There are also other consequence in accepting a guilty plea. Your case should be very easy to resolve if you retain the right law firm. Because of budget cuts and the spike in crime the legal aid attorneys are inundated with work which puts all of their clients in a vulnerable position.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    My advice: NEVER plead guilty. If you do so, then it limits the possible plea options that you might have. Your first appearance is the arraignment. Plead "Not Guilty". The court will then assign you a public defender if you cannot afford to hire one. If you do not qualify for a public defender, my advice - retain the services of an attorney. A criminal conviction can have far reaching consequences; employment and school issues.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Lawsmith, The Law Office of J. Scott Smith
    Lawsmith, The Law Office of J. Scott Smith | J. Scott Smith
    Just ask the Judge for a court appointed attorney. Don't "plea" to anything. Ask for a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You were charged with Petty Larceny and that is a misdemeanor. You should retain a good criminal attorney who can try to get the case dismissed or reduced to a violation of Disorderly Conduct. If you are indigent the court will appoint an attorney to handle the case but you have a better chance at an ACD dismissal with a private attorney. He will charge you about $1,500, but that would prevent you from having a criminal record for the rest of your life. A conviction is never removed and can hurt your chances of getting into college or getting a good job. If you are under 19 then you will not have a record because yo are eligible for Youthful Offender Treatment. Life is about making good decisions, getting a good education, getting a good job, and having a strong moral compass. You risked your entire future for $10, disgraced your family name, broke your mother's heart, and ruined your reputation for a few dollars. That shows incredibly bad judgment and that will not change overnight. Unless you change the way you view yourself and the world you will keep on making mistakes and your chances of being successful will not be good. Use this experience as a lesson and never violate any law again and it will be a valuable life lesson.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    Talk to an attorney about your options. Depending on your county, there may be diversion programs available that could help keep this off your criminal record. Your attorney might also be able to arrange a civil compromise, whereby you pay the victim some money and the case goes away that way.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    At your first appearance you should enter a plea of NOT GUILTY. You should ask the Court for a lawyer to be appointed or if you can afford to retain an attorney a continuance for time to retain a private attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Plead not guilty. A conviction for shoplifting (theft of property third) is a permanent record of a conviction and is one that involves moral turpitude. Hire an attorney to see if you can prevent this from being a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You're right. Theft, regardless of the amount, is a crime of moral turpitude, and having it will prevent you from obtaining any meaningful employment for a decade at least. You need to hire a lawyer ASAP, and make sure you do not speak to anyone else or sign any documents, or you risk incriminating yourself. If you need time to come up with money to get a lawyer, tell that to the Judge, who will continue the arraignment to a later date.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    The best thing you can do to avoid having a conviction sully your good name is to fight the charge with an attorney that will fight hard for you. If you truly want to keep your name clear, fight hard now.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    The most important point is for you to appear on December 1, 2011. You do not have to take a plea of guilty at this court date. You have the right to choose your own private counsel, or if you cannot afford one, the Court will appoint one for you. You will have a right to go trial and the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed any alleged crime.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Relax. At the first hearing you should plead "not guilty" unless the prosecutor is willing to offer you diversion. By pleading not guilty, you are preserving all options that may become available once you have an attorney. The other thing you should know is Theft convictions can be vacated and dismissed after a period of time that is free of new offenses. Pay your fines, jump through the hoops the court sets out for you and you can go back later and get your case vacated and dismissed so it does not appear on your record forever.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Plead "not-guilty" and ask for a lawyer to be appointed. The DA, judge, or court staff is likely to explain the process for people who are unfamiliar with it. It might make sense for you to plead guilty, but only if you have a lawyer help you to make that decision. And it's almost impossible to plead guilty by accident; the judge would go through the consequences with you in some detail.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Ronald Aronds, LLC
    Law Office of Ronald Aronds, LLC | Ronald Aronds
    If you hire a lawyer now yo probably won't have to go to court on December 1. If you don't hire a lawyer in advance then you need to go to court on your court date and plead "Not Guilty". This is a serious charge so you need to talk to a lawyer right away.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    If you can not afford to hire an attorney, ask the Court to appoint the public defender to represent you. If you can afford to hire an attorney,you should hire an attorney, because the public defender will not be spending as much time working on your case.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    You can hire an attorney to make sure your record is protected, apply for a public defender when you go to court, or represent yourself and try to work out a resolution with the prosecutor. On minor charges prosecutors and judges often will offer a sentence that will not place a conviction on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Anderson Walsh PLLC
    Anderson Walsh PLLC | STACI LYNN ANDERSON
    At your arraignment, your plea should be not guilty and if you cannot retain your own attorney you should apply for the services of the public defender.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Baner and Baner
    Baner and Baner | Jonathan Baner
    Depending on where you are there may be a public defender already there simply for purposes of the arraignment. You must qualify to be able to get a free lawyer. They aren't usually free even the "appointed" ones are awarded restitution by the court usually but it'll be less than private counsel probably.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Offices of Kenrick Young
    Law Offices of Kenrick Young | Nicholas Lazzarini
    It sounds like you were cited for petty theft (theft of property under $50), which can be charged as a misdemeanor or infraction in California. A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $1,000.0 and/or a county jail sentence of up to six months. An infraction is punishable only by a fine up to $250.00. You should consult a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options before appearing at your December 1, 2011 court date. Also, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you have the right to request an attorney present for arraignment.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Office of Johnny Lai, Inc.
    Law Office of Johnny Lai, Inc. | Johnny Lai
    You should show up for court on your court date. If you don't show up, you will end up with a warrant and could end up in jail on the warrant (e.g. if you are stopped for jaywalking, the police may run you and find you have a warrant and can arrest you on the spot.). When you go to court, you can ask for a court-appointed attorney. Alternative, you can hire your own attorney or ask for time to do so when you go to court. Your attorney will advise you about how to plea. If in doubt, plead "not guilty" until you, in consultation with your attorney, decide another course is appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    You can request a court appointed lawyer if they may be seeking jail time for the charge. They probably won't seek jail so you may not get a court appointed lawyer. You should discuss the case with the prosecutor, and they may have a way to resolve it that you can live with like a deferred sentence (plead guilty, pay restitution, do community service work and then at the end of all that the guilty plea is withdrawn and share dismissed so you do not end up with a permanent conviction on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    Try and get a deferred judgment which is a deal wherein the case is dismissed after you successfully complete probation.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Make sure you plead "Not Guilty" at your arraignment or first court appearance. Otherwise you lose the benefit of a plea bargain of any kind. I would seek out a lawyer ahead of time as they are not going to give you a court-appointed lawyer on a minor misdemeanor charge like this. You may be eligible for a diversion program which could keep the matter off of your public record. At least have an attorney review the police report before you agree to anything. There could be errors that could get the charges reduced or dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    It's doubtful that a lawyer will be appointed to you. If you simply can't afford an attorney, make sure you ask for deferred adjudication probation or a pretrial intervention. Some sort of program where it will not go on your record. Theft charges can prohibit you from obtaining employment.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C.
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C. | Kenneth Wincorn
    Get a lawyer to advise you. The facts will determine what you do.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    Normally in such a case a not guilty plea is the appropriate way to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Plead Not Guilty and askto have an attorney assigned to you and your case.Depending upon which county it is located in, you are likely to be offered an ACD, meaning an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, which means if you don't get re-arrested for anything new within the next six months, the case will be dismissed and the record sealed and expunged, which is the best possible outcome. Of course, don't get re-arrested, or it will go worse for you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Plead not guilty and either hire your own lawyer or ask for a court appointed attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    If you can afford to do so, get a lawyer before court. That attorney can appear on your behalf in court. They can review your case for any factual or legal defenses and - if it is a solid case, they can advocate on your behalf to work out something that doesn't involve a conviction on your record. Or, if you cannot afford a lawyer (and you'll never know until you meet with a couple to discuss your case, fees and payment options), then you show up to court, request a public defender and plead NOT GUILTY.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If you are charged with shoplifting your first court date will be your arraignment. At that hearing you will be told the charges against you and asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty you are convicted on your plea; you will be sentenced and with the exceptions of probation hearings your court time is over. If you plead not guilty then you will have a pretrial date and a trial date. You will be asked if you want an attorney and if you can afford one. If you have an attorney (always if pleading not guilty) your attorney will receive the police report and review it with you. During this time your attorney will advise you of the way to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    If the December 1 court date is for your arraignment, plead "not guilty." It is the prosecution's job to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They may not have sufficient evidence. You have no way of knowing at this stage. If you do not have a significant criminal record you can expect some form of probation and restitution as a plea bargain. Take the advice of your court-appointed attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Vermeulen Law office P.A.
    Vermeulen Law office P.A. | Jacob T. Erickson
    Based on your e-mail, you want to plead not guilty and ask to have a public defender appointed. Tell the Court Administrator that you want to apply for a public defender when you go to Court.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Summers and Schneider
    Summers and Schneider | Kimberly A. Summers
    Your first court date is merely your arraignment where you will plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. If you can not afford a private attorney (and I would recommend hiring a private attorney before that date) then the court will appoint you a public defender. Keep in mind that the plea offer that they give you at that first appearance may not be the plea that gets offered at a later time (it often gets better). There are two dispositions you would ideally be interested in. First, they can offer you a plea to an ACD, or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. With this disposition, as long as you stay out of trouble for a period of six months the case will be automatically dismissed and sealed and you will be returned to your pre-arrest status (i.e. if you are ever asked if you have been arrested you can answer "no".) Second, they may offer you a plea to a violation and even the judge will tell you that it is a violation and NOT a crime, meaning you will not have a criminal record as a result of the case and it should be sealed at the end of a year. Both of those dispositions can also come with certain restrictions such as the payment of restitution or the completion of community service. You should always consult your lawyer before accepting any plea to make sure you understand your options and any potential consequences that the plea could have.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/3/2011
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