What can I expect after my first offense of shoplifting? 50 Answers as of July 09, 2013

I was caught shoplifting for $30 in merchandise. I'm over 18 and this is my first offense. Could I go to jail? Will I have to pay fines or go on probation? Thank you.

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Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
Depending on the county you may be eligible for a diversion program to keep this off your record.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/12/2011
Palumbo and Kosofsky
Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
You need to retain defense counsel who will represent you and explain the process. We can represent you and work to avoid a criminal conviction and jail time.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/6/2011
Law Office of Daniel K Martin
Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
This conduct can be charged in two different ways so the outcome will depend on how it was charged. Commercial burglary. A commercial burglary is when a person enters a business with the intent to commit a crime. Commercial burglary can be punished in California by a year in the county jail, 16 months in prison, two years in prison or three years in prison. It can be difficult for the prosecutor to prove that you entered the store with the intent to steal so it is more likely that you will be charged with a misdemeanor petty theft. Petty theft. Petty theft is the crime of stealing an items that's value is below a threshold amount. It used to be $400 recently that has changed to $900 and it may change again so I am cautious about providing an amount here. Petty theft is punishable by incarceration in the county jail. The fact that this is your first case means that you will probably not be sentenced to jail. In some cases people are allowed to participate in a diversion class. If you are allowed to participate in diversion then you will not go to jail and the charge can be dismissed if you comply with the court's orders. These cases can be expensive, often costing $1,000 when you are done with everything. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/5/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I'd recommend you retain an attorney to assist you with this matter. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court may appoint you one at the public's expense. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Only if a person is ultimately convicted or if they plead guilty will they be sentenced. In Michigan, the maximum penalties for a retail fraud, third, usually charged in alleged shop-lifting cases for merchandise with a value under $200.00, is 93 days in jail, probation up to two years,a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. MCL 750.356d. Please note, however, that these are the maximum possible penalties. Judges in Michigan misdemeanor cases have a wide latitude with their sentences up to the maximum pursuant to the applicable statute. Policies and practices vary widely depending on the judge and county. An arraigning judge usually advises a defendant of their maximum possible penalties pursuant to the law.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/2/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
You will be given an ACD delayed dismissal if you retain a good criminal attorney to handle the case. If you are not arrested again after six months the case will be dismissed. Please learn that it is not worth getting a criminal record and ruining your reputation just to steal a $30 item. You are not a good decision maker and you need to accept that fact and change your view of yourself and make much better decisions in the future.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/2/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If this charge is in Municipal Court you could go to jail for up to six months and pay a fine of $1,000. Normally, persons who are first time offenders receive probation. If you are under the age of 21 you may qualify for treatment as a youthful offender which could keep your record clean.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/2/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    First, it would be best if you consulted an experienced criminal law specialist to determine if a conviction for theft can be avoided. Theft is a crime of "moral turpitude" that will follow you for life and could prevent you from obtaining certain jobs and entering certain professions. The penalties for a first offense theft would be minor, it is the long term consequences that you need to keep in mind.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/2/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    Yes, if it's Prince William County General District Court in which you've been charged, if you're convicted, you can expect the judge to sentence you to two days in jail (even though you're a first time offender). Better get an attorney if at all possible to represent you, and if you (or your parents) cannot afford to hire one, then ask the court to appoint one for you.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 9/2/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    You will have fines, court costs, community service, and probation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    The Geller Firm
    The Geller Firm | Marc B Geller
    You should NOT go to jail. You may be able to negotiate a plea to an infraction and/or have your conviction expunged within a year.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Yes to all of the above. Shoplifting is a "gross misdemeanor", punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. Generally a person will not go to jail for a 1st offense, unless the person has a criminal record. A person will generally get a "suspended sentence" which means the judge will sentence you to the maximum penalty, but suspend the jail time and a portion of the $5,000.00 for a period of 2 years. During this time you will be on probation and required to do certain court ordered things. If you fail, you go to jail. You may also want to consider some other potential issues you face. You don't say how old you are, but if you are going to college or plans to, a criminal charge like this could disqualify you from attending certain colleges. It can also disqualify you from receiving financial aid, loans and grants. If you are looking for a job, a theft conviction is going to disqualify you from most any job especially in today's economy. I strongly advise you to speak with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Ramsell & Associates LLC
    Ramsell & Associates LLC | Donald Ramsell
    In Illinois, your case may qualify for dismissal after you satisfy certain conditions imposed by the court. Later, an attorney can even help you get this expunged.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    You're in luck. In Washington there is a procedure called "Compromise of Misdemeanor." Basically, if you pay restitution and the store agrees, you can ask the court to dismiss the case as a Compromise of Misdemeanor. The other option may be diversion. At any rate, it is unlikely that the court would sentence a first-time misdemeanor offender to jail. Even if you get jail. You can do work crew in lieu of jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    It depends. In Orange County the DAs may offer a deferred entry of judgment. If you successfully complete a theft class and stay out of trouble for 90 days, your case would be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey | Michael E. Dailey
    The outcome in this case can vary substantially based on the jurisdiction or court involved. The range of punishment varies according to the jurisdiction. Most courts have the authority to impose a jail sentence but negotiations through counsel and the prosecutor could result in a probation and/or fine.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    This depends upon the Judge who has jurisdiction over the case. Usually a theft is a class A misdemeanor which would carry up to 12 months jail and $2500 fines. The usual sentence would be expected probation.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You will get an offer from the District Attorney. If you have an attorney the offer will be better. You should, end up this a time served offer, three years summary probation, stay away order from the store you shoplifted from, court fines, and restitution to the store. With an attorney you may get the shoplifting reduced to a trespass.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC | Jeffery A. Cojocar
    Depends on the jurisdiction hire an attorney to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    All are possibilities. As a young person you have more options to keep it off your record with the right attorney. Don't mess up again.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Thank you for your inquiry You may be eligible for a first offender program, HYTA or a deferred sentence. These types of treatment can result in the matter not being on your public record. In any event, I would expect a fine and probation, even though the case likely has a maximum penalty of up to 93 days in jail. (If a Retail Fraud 3rd). The above-mentioned treatment can be explained and sought by the attorney you hire. In some Courts, these are not available without an attorney. Should you need an attorney in wayne, oakland or macomb county, you may contact this office for an appointment. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    You're going to face petty theft charges - the maximum is six months in county jail and/or a thousand dollar fine with three years of probation. That's just the court punishment. In reality, if convicted, you will have a theft conviction that you will have to disclose on job applications (you'll be turned down) and have the stigma of a record. Instead of focusing on the punishment, try to find a good local criminal defense attorney that routinely practices in the court where your case will be heard. They may beagle to work something out where you can avoid a conviction in the first place.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Michael J. Gardiner, Attorney at Law | Michael Gardiner
    If you can afford an attorney, the ideal disposition would be no record and you come away not emboldened to get into more trouble later, but rather so wise, you never get arrested again.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    Usaully a fine, probation and community service. Many courts also require a "values clarification" class as well.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    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.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Without knowing the court you will be appearing in a best guess would be you would be placed on probation and have to pay fines and costs. The store can also charge you under the civil penalty 10 times the value of the merchandise stolen not to exceed $200.00.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    This is THeft in the third degree and you will probably get only a fine, court costs and a lecture.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    Every jurisdiction is different. It depends on where you were arrested.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    Law Offices of Sean Logue
    Law Offices of Sean Logue | Sean Logue
    You likely will be placed on a year long probation, and have to pay court costs and a fine, as well as restitution.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Kathleen N. Carey Law Offices, PLC
    Kathleen N. Carey Law Offices, PLC | Kathleen N. Carey
    Most cities and towns have diversion programs for first offenders. They require paying fees to be screened and for at least a 6 hour class. If there are any restitution costs to the merchant that were lost, you are usually required to pay those costs (i.e., the merchandise was damaged or not returned). Diversion programs are run by the prosecution and it is there decision who is offered a diversion, not the court or the defense attorney. Most require the defendant to plead "guilty" to the offense on the friont end but the Judge does not enter a guilty in the case unless the defendant fails to pay for the screenings and do the classes, etc. So, if you are offered a diversion, make sure you understand that you must complete the program and they rarely allow you a second chance if you do not do the program.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Probably a fine and probation. As a first offender with that little amount it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you will get a jail sentence. If you do you can probably serve it on a weekender work program or sheriff's alternative work program, but I doubt you will get sentenced beyond a fine and probation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    It really depends on the court and judge and prosecutor but having practiced in many courts I would hope for either a deferred finding (where you essentially stipulate to your guilt) or a deferred sentence (where you plead guilty and the sentence is delayed). Both usually entail a fine , no jail and restitution and law abiding behavior for a period of probation. There is also the option of a compromise of misdemeanor. All options result in no record of conviction. I would suggest getting a lawyer in any event. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    The answers to most of your questions will depend upon what court you are dealing with, or facing charges in. You should hire an attorney to represent you in any event. The attorney can determine whether there is enough evidence to convict you and whether or not you have any legal defenses. If necessary, the attorney should be able to negotiate a plea bargain under which you could avoid jail time and also possibly avoid a conviction being entered on your record. This is extremely important to you, because a conviction would have very serious negative consequences for you for potentially the rest of your life.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    You will likely receive diversion or probation.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/9/2013
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    You should hirea lawyer to represent you because shoplifting is a crime of moral turpitude and could affect you for the rest of your life. At the worst, you should request deferred prosecution (also known as deferred disposition) in which the case is reset and you are required to do things like community service, write a letter of apology, etc. When you return to court on the schedule date, if you have done the things required of you and you have not gotten into ANY more trouble (including traffic citations), then the case is dismissed. You can file a lawsuit in civil district court 2 years in the future to have your record cleared completely (which absolutely requires a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    It depends upon the jurisdiction. In Pierce County you might be eligible for a diversion program called El Cid. With most diversion programs, charges are dismissed with successful completion of the program. If there is no such program in your jurisdiction, you would not likely face jail time but might be required to do community service for a shoplifting case. Fines and probation also will vary with the jurisdiction.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    You should get a lawyer he could arrange for you to possibly get deal where if you your clean then you might have no record. It is important to keep your record clear if you ever want to have a job.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    I have answered this question several times before, I'd suggest looking in my profile for the answer. Just for you, I will answer it one more time, you are not looking at jail time. You should retain an attorney to represent you, however, to try and get a sentence that will not result in a permanent unexpungeable record for the rest of your life. You may get theft deterrent school or supervision,, if the crime occurred here in Illinois, both of which are expungeable.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Most of the time, teh first offense will result in probation. However, probation may mena you have a conviction on your record, which will follow you limitign your future employment prospects.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    $30 in Texas is a Class C Misdemeanor. The range of punishment is only a fine of up to $500, no jail time. A good attorney can get it dismissed, a pretrial intervention, or at worst a deferred adjudication probation. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions. G
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Hugo Florido ESQ.
    Hugo Florido ESQ. | Hugo Florido
    I would say it would really depends in what county the arrest took place. In Miami-Dade County rarely does a Defendant go to jail on a 1st time misdemeanor offense. Most likely the State would offer a Pre Trial course where you can have the criminal charges dismissed upon completion of the program.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam | Ramona Hallam
    You will probably be charged with California Penal Code 484 PC and 488 PC. You can defend yourself by either 1. not intending to have stolen (you forgot to put the merchandise back or pay); 2. the property was already yours; 3.) You had consent to take the item or 4.) someone put the merchandise in your possession. You cannot be convicted unless the prosecutor can prove you intended to take the item. This is a bad charge because it is a crime involving moral turpitude and can be used against you in employment, or in immigration court. Although it is a misdemeanor at $30.00, you should try to defend yourself because of the ding on your record. Because this is a first offense, your lawyer might be able to do an informal diversion. The court may send you to shoplifting classes, and have you pay for the item in order to drop the charges. You should really hire counsel and try to help yourself rather than plan on fines and probation right away.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/9/2013
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Generally an offense of that type may be reduced to a petty misdemeanor with only a fine or if it remains a misdemeanor there could be probation as well but generally no jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/1/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Technically you could go to jail. Realistically, you can almost all but guarantee that you won't be sentenced to jail. Probation is a possibility with a diversion program being more likely, especially if it is your first offense. A diversion program centers more around community service and upon completion it stays off your public record. You may have to pay some fines and end up spending a few hundred dollars all together and more if you hire a lawyer. Make sure you plead not guilty at your arraignment or else you forfeit your chance to bargain with the prosecutor. You can seek legal representation if you wish. It would probably put your more at ease more than anything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    You could get up to six (6) months in jail (or Work Release or Electronic Detention/House Arrest), fines, search terms and up to five years of probation (three years is more common). You should think positively and try to get the District Attorney to drop the charge to an Infraction. Assuming you do not have a defense and were busted red-handed, you will pay a nominal fine (maybe $100 - $200) and learn from the experience.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    Few, if any persons, convicted of petty theft (shoplifting) do any jail time. In many counties, there is a diversion program that allows one to get their case dismissed after completing an educational program about the harm done by shoplifters. This way there is no conviction on one's record. Not all courts and DA's offices allow this, but a good attorney can fashion one if they know how to do it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    All of the above. Petty theft usually comes with fines, restitution, probation, and possibly jail, although not likely on a first offense. Petty theft is a crime of moral turpitude, so if you have it on your record you can say goodbye to any kind of meaningful employment for the next ten plus years of your life. Get an attorney to try and get a reduction in charge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    With a good attorney, you may be able to negotiate the dismissal of the charge upon successful completion of certain conditions. A theft conviction would likely affect your ability to obtain employment and housing. The chances for a jail sentence on a first time conviction are slim and the fine will depend on your economic circumstances but cannot exceed $1,000.00.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    Martin Law Offices, PLLC
    Martin Law Offices, PLLC | Matthew T. Martin
    You should be able to negotiate an alternative disposition as you want to try and keep this offense off your record. A misdemeanor is punishable by 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. It is unlikely you will need to do jail but a fine and probation is likely. Let me know if you have questions.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/31/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    No. You won't go to jail. A lawyer can probably get you a pretty good deal.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/31/2011
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