What do I do in court if I was charged with theft? 43 Answers as of June 26, 2013

I do not know what to say when I go to court I was told that I may be able to pay restitution and it will not be on my record. I felt pressured to say I did it never saw any type of proof from them, I really just want this off of my record and move on. Also will I be able to receive my unemployment benefits due to this?

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Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
Under the limited facts given; your first appearance in court will be your arraignment, at that time you should plead not guilty. Your attorney will then get the police report see what can be worked out on this case. You need an attorney on this. If you cannot hire one; use the public defender.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/25/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
You should consult with an experienced attorney before making any decisions in court.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 8/25/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
Sounds like you stole from your company. If that is the case, you probably will not qualify for unemployment benefits. You also do not indicate how much was taken as the amount may determine whether or not you are charged with a felony or a lesser crime. Either way, a conviction can carry with it the potential for jail time. Do not hurry just to "put this behind you". You really need to consult with an attorney as he/she will be able to examine your case in detail and see, what, if anything, can be done to minimize the matter and possibly keep it from being a permanent part of your record, which obviously could impact future employment.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/25/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
Hire an attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney request that the Court appoint an attorney to represent you. Either way, it is best that you do not attempt to explain yourself to the Court or to the prosecutor as you will likely incriminate yourself. It is possible that your case may be resolved with a good behavior, if the evidence and/or facts warrant same, and if the victim and the prosecutor is willing to go along with it. Normally, there is no disposition of merely paying restitution and getting out of the situation without a conviction.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 8/24/2011
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
Never agree to plead guilty to anything without first consulting with a lawyer. There are possible options such as diversion which could keep the charge off of your record, but you need to speak to an attorney before agreeing to anything.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/24/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    DO INTO PLEAD GUILTY AT ARRAIGNMENT. If you do you lose all your bargaining power. Get an attorney. Usually something can be worked out.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/24/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Plead not guilty and request a court appointed lawyer. If you can afford a lawyer, hire one.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    A "deferred judgment" will enable you to clear this from your record when the case is over.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    There is a saying that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client. This is no less applicable for a lay person. It is not a wise decision to represent one's self on a criminal charge. It is not only the direct disposition that you need to consider but also the long term consequences of having a criminal record. Think this through. You only have one chance to get this right. You will likely live with the consequences for life.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC | Jeffery A. Cojocar
    Hire an attorney to represent you, or request a court appointed counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    If it is not a felony charge of theft then you should still be able to collect unemployment , and you may be able to get it expunged so you should hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    I don't recommend you do anything in court. You should hire a lawyer who knows that court. The attorney will know the procedures for that court and whether you can get diversion where the case gets dismissed if you perform certain tasks, pay a fee and stay out if trouble.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    In a criminal proceeding of this nature you have the right to be represented by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court would appoint one for you. An attorney would be able to help you in a court proceeding. It is unclear if you pled guilty at this time. If you did, then a motion to withdraw plea is a possibility if you have not been sentenced. If you were criminally charged, paying restitution will generally not make the charges go away.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    You need to speak to a lawyer about a "compromise of misdemeanor." This will keep your record clean if you just pay back the "victim".
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    You can plead guilty or not guilty. The D.A. usually will drop the charge if the accused makes restitution and the victim does not want to prosecute. You should talk to a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Rose & Rose | Terry Rose
    You should retain an attorney. This is too complicated for a lay person.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    First, if you did not do it, then do not say you did. Second, even if you were involved, you have a right to see the evidence, not just agree with the DA Third, if you do not have a lawyer, get one. This is not a game and your entire life will be affected, even if you get deferred adjudication, this stays on your record until the statute of limitations has run and you have been discharged. At that time you have a right to have the record sealed. Until that time, it appears on your record as an arrest - no conviction - pending. Note, it shows "pending" so every cop that stops you for anything whatsoever thinks you are a thief and will treat you as such, from traffic tickets on up. Your probation officer can make or break you and you will have to enter a contract with the State - contract requires very little proof in a lawsuit, so even though you may find yourself charged with another crime that the State cannot prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" you can have your deferred "adjudicated" on that same offense if the evidence shows you "likely" committed the new crime. This destroys the "deferred" status, you get a conviction that is final and permanent. Don't show up for probation meetings, you get adjudicated. Don't do the community service - you get adjudicated. Don't pay the fines or court cost, you can be adjudicated. See a pattern here?
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    You may be able to enter a diversion program in order to keep the theft offense off your record and allow you to keep receiving unemployment benefits. These programs are available in many counties for first time offenders where the dollar amount of the theft is not excessive. Misdemeanor and felony level offenders are often eligible for diversion. A person who qualifies for the program is required to attend theft offender classes, complete community service, and remain law abiding. Upon completion of the diversion program, the charge against you is dismissed without a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    The first time you appear it is an arraignment. Judge will explain potential consequences and ask for a plea. If plea guilty then judge imposes consequences. If not guilty then get a trial date. Prosecutor should talk to you about a recommendation. It is impossible to give you advise without knowing all facts. I would be happy to talk to you at some point.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    You really need an attorney to represent you in this matter. If the theft was from your prior place of business then you will not be entitled to unemployment.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers
    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers | Andrew D. Myers
    You need an attorney. Do not do this yourself. You can not afford to NOT have an attorney. One of the many reasons is that you have contradicted yourself in this brief posting, by indicating that you felt pressured to say you did it, and at the same time saying you just want this off your record. Have an attorney handle this case for you. Say nothing to anyone about any of this other than the attorney that you retain.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq.
    Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq. | John J. Connors, Esq.
    My first advice to any client is to NOT say anything. Whatever you say can and will be used against you. A good attorney can negotiate a settlement with the DA. If it is a case of shoplifting there is a possibility it can be decriminalized and you would pay a fine. If the amount was under $250 it is a misdemeanor and you may be entitled to a show cause hearing before a clerk magistrate. If it is over $250, it is a felony and therefore more serious. In any case you need to speak to a competent attorney prior to an arraignment. If it is under $250 an attorney may advise you about the possibility of an accord and satisfaction if restitution is paid.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Retain a good criminal attorney. He will get the case dismissed if it was your first offense. A shoplifting conviction can ruin your chances of getting a good job or career, an apartment, or benefits. Life is about making good decisions...shoplifting is a very bad decision.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    You need to retain an attorney to explain the process to you and to allow you to make an informed choice. Your case could be negotiated to protect your record, or you could go to trial and get a dismissal if the facts support it. Without an attorney, you have a great disadvantage and you may never know if you made a good informed choice unless there is a problem down the road that you did not anticipate. The time to get good advice is now. Do not make a choice to plea/make statements/etc without knowing what your choices are and why you make one choice or another. Either hire an attorney or ask for a Court Appointed attorney when you go to Court. Do NOT plead guilty without speaking to an attorney. Do NOT make admissions without speaking with an attorney. Your future is at stake, and poor choices can limit your options. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Did you steal from your employer? If so, you cannot get unemployment benefits. If you are charged with theft then you need to hire a lawyer. A lawyer may be able to work the case so that you can get it dismissed after serving a term of time like a probation with community service and paying restitution. It is called pre-trial diversion. If you successfully complete this, you can expunge it off your record in the future.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    When you are in Court the only thing you should say is "Judge, I need some time to hire an attorney." Then, do it.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/23/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Admit nothing. Hire a lawyer. If you can't afford one, tell the judge at your arraignment that you need appointed counsel. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Do not plea guilty. Ask for a "diversion" program or take the case to trial if you do not want "it" on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    If it is a first offense, you may be eligible to participate in a Diversion program if one is offered in the County you are charged. If that is an option, if the amount in question is relatively small, the offense can be reduced to a petty misdemeanor which in Minnesota is not considered a criminal conviction. If none of those are available, there are sentencing options available such as a Stay of Adjudication or a Continuance For Dismissal which would keep the conviction off your record. You should never enter any type of agreement without seeing the police reports. As long as the charge is not a felony level charge and doesn't involve unemployment compensation, it should not affect your ability to receive those benefits.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If you confess that you stole from your employer, then you could be denied unemployment benefits. Otherwise no. As to your defense, you really need a lawyer. You can't handle this on your own. There will always be a record of your arrest but if you are lucky enough to be offered an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, then you won't have a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    If you accepted a deferred sentence then if you do all the conditions the charge will be dismissed at the end plus you can seal the record. Check the paperwork you signed to see if that is what you accepted. You can ask the prosecutor for the discovery in your case to see what they have as proof.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    When you go to court, tell the judge you want to speak to an attorney and do not have the funds to retain counsel (based on your comment about unemployment). Talk to that attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You need a criminal defense lawyer to help you. You definitely do not want to plead guilty to this crime if you can avoid it. Pleading to theft can impact your criminal record and impact future employment among other issues.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    Say you are not guilty and hire an attorney or apply for an attorney at the public's expense. It does not matter if you confessed or otherwise were caught red handed you can still plead not guilty. If this is your first offense you may indeed be able to keep this off your record.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of John Schum, LLC
    Law Office of John Schum, LLC | John Schum
    Thank you for contacting my office for answers to your questions. Please understand that my responses are general in nature and the law often focuses on specific facts. Before making any legal decisions, you should go over all the facts and specific circumstances of your situation with a lawyer. Additionally, my responses do not create an attorney-client relationship. Your comments to me are confidential and I cannot repeat them. However, I am not representing you on this matter, unless we later establish a formal attorney-client relationship. Now to provide a response to your question. It sounds like you are looking at a misdemeanor charge of theft in the fourth degree. That carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. You will not likely get sentenced to jail. There are some legal mechanisms that will allow you to keep this conviction off your record. This is a significant opportunity you should not pass up. You will need a lawyer to have the best chance to keep the conviction off your record and know all the rights and problems with this course of action. This is one of my areas of practice and can help you with this case if you desire. There is a chance if you make restitution, the State will drop the charges. This is rare but I did just get that result for a client. I hope this helps you sort your legal situation out.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    What you have left out is the important information regarding the value of the property you are alleged to have taken. If it is only a petty theft and the value was less than $100 then there is a reasonable change it can be reduced to an infraction which will not go on your record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Pay restitution and it will not be on your record? That is the funniest lie I've ever heard, and it probably came from the people you stole from: "Just pay us, and it won't be on your record." Well, it is all a bunch of BS. You better hire an attorney, because if you get this crime of moral turpitude on your record, you can say good bye to any kind of meaningful employment for the next 10 years.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Jason Overton, Attorney at Law
    Jason Overton, Attorney at Law | Jason Overton
    You only pay restitution if you're found guilty. If you're found guilty, whether by a trial or a plea, it won't be "off your record." It will be "on your record" as a conviction. You need to hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    You should not say anything when you go to court. That is why you have an attorney. If you are representing yourself you are already making a mistake. Most theft cases can be dismissed under the Compromise of Misdemeanor statute but you need to understand the law.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Your question raises an employment question in addition to a criminal question. As far as the criminal question, if you have no record and the store agrees to the court dismissing the case on payment of restitution, you may be able to get the whole mess to go away by paying the store and moving the court to dismiss the case under what is called a "compromise of misdemeanor." If you are a first-time offender, you may also be eligible for diversion. As for the employment question, the Department of Employment Security will review your application for benefits and may deny your application based on what they call a "voluntary quit." In your case it would be due to a violation of the employer's rules. You have a right to a hearing on that and the employer may not object to your receiving benefits. In that case you would begin receiving unemployment compensation after your first two weeks being unemployed.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Do you have a lawyer? If you can't afford one, the court will appoint one to defend you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Braunstein Law, PC
    Braunstein Law, PC | Jacob Braunstein
    You may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in criminal defense. There is a chance your attorney could draft a civil compromise with the alleged victim whereby the alleged victim agrees to payment for damages in exchange for the charges being dropped. This would all have to be approved by the judge of course. But there may be other options as well.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/22/2011
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