What do I need to do about a shoplifting charge I just received? Do I need an attorney? 21 Answers as of May 22, 2013

This is what happened: On Tuesday night around 10 pm, an officer arrived at my home and told me I was under arrest for shoplifting. I am a single mom of two sons one is 17 and one is 11. He told me he was going to call department of family and children to get the kids. And that I would be held in county jail for at least 48 hours. My seventeen-year-old step up and said he would handle little brother tonight and take him to school tomorrow. They handcuffed me in front of my boys and took me to jail. O yeah, said me and my little son, drank two cokes and ate crackers in the store and then left empty containers in buggie for a grand total of $3.73. The arrest came three days later (from Sunday to Tuesday) I shop this dollar general all the time. They know my name. I own a insurance company, so this store is just quick on my way home. Is this right?

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Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
Yes.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/22/2013
Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
Yes. You need an attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/26/2012
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
The police did not wign the arrest warrant for you they were serving you with a warrant that would have been signed by the store. I strongly suggest that you consider immediately hiring an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 9/24/2012
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
You are always entitled to represent yourself in court. Whether you should is a different issue. The conventional wisdom is that an attorney will be able to do a better job and get a better outcome. Prosecutors and judges don't like dealing with ProPers, unless you are simply pleading guilty, not defending the case. While this isn't a 'capital case', you certainly face fines and potential jail, so handle it right. If you don't know how to represent yourself effectively against an experienced prosecutor intending to convict, then hire an attorney who does, who will try to get a dismissal, charge reduction, diversion, programs, or other decent outcome through motions, plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/24/2012
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
You should retain a good criminal lawyer to get the best possible disposition in the matter. Whether you steal one dollar or $999 it is a misdemeanor Petty Larceny. Anything over $1,000 is Grand Larceny. Eating and drinking merchandise is the same as stealing it, and it is known as "grazing". The prosecutor will offer an ACD dismissal if you have no prior record.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/24/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    It is right if you did as accused. There are cameras all over stores. Get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    It is legally correct. You will need an attorney to make sure it doesn't end up on your permanent criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    It is a crime, no matter how much or little you stole. You need an attorney. You probably are not facing jail time, and if a first time offender, you probably could qualify for a court diversion program. Hire and discuss your options with a lawyer who practices criminal law, you really do not want this to become a permanent mark on your criminal record, if possible.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    You need to get an attorney. You did not pay for the things and permanently deprived the owner of them. A lawyer might be able to work it out so you have no record. Think is what a conviction would do to your business.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    It sounds like both the store and the officers were overly harsh. However, that is probably a good indication that you had better be prepared when you get to court for equally harsh efforts to prosecute you. Although a 1st offense Shoplifting charge is only punishable by a fine and no jail time, I would still advise you to get a lawyer. A lawyer may be able to get the charges dismissed so no conviction appears on your record. A conviction on your record will cause you far more difficulties in life than the fine.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/24/2012
    Attorney at Law | Michael P. Vollandt
    Odd that the cops would come out and arrest you. If what is alleged is true you could be liable of 2nd degree burglary which could be a felony. The cop did not see you so that would be only way he could be at your house to arrest you. He can not arrest on a misdemeanor unless he saw the offense. You should consult with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    You should have an attorney. The actions of the officer seem excessive considering the facts but the charge exists and you need to address it. You need to be concerned with the potential record that could result.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    See if the store is willing to work out a compromise of misdemeanor. If you pay them damages and they agree they are satisfied and have no objection to the case being dropped, the court will dismiss it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You better hire an attorney soon before you do something stupid (like go back to that store) that will incriminate yourself further. Theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and you having 2 kids won't mean a darn thing to the Judge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Sounds severe. Get an attorney. Count on the fact they have the eating and drinking on tape.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    For first offense shoplifting, one normally is required to take a consumer class, do community service, pay a court fine, stay away from the store, and have no further criminal activity. The store can also assess a civil penalty.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    You own an insurance company? You need a lawyer who can probably get the case dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    Did you drink the cokes and eat the crackers without paying? If they have you on video and you didn't pay at the counter, then you are guilty of shoplifting, no matter the value of the items. Anytime you can be jailed for something you did, you should get an attorney. Your stakes are higher than just spending a little time in jail. You're looking at the government taking away your kids because the 17 year-old is not old enough to care for himself and his little brother. Get a lawyer now and let that lawyer handle this case.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Douglas M. Philpott, P.C. | Peter J. Philpott
    An attorney may be able to get the matter reduced so you don't have a record.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Natty Shafer Law
    Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
    Having an attorney will definitely help you. Many prosecutors will realize that they will have a harder time moving forward with charges for a $3.73 theft if you have an attorney. Prosecutors are much more likely to drop charges.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    The Rogers Law Firm
    The Rogers Law Firm | Andrea Storey Rogers
    It sounds pretty ridiculous to me. But yes, you do need to hire an attorney to represent you. If you just plead guilty and pay the fine, then the shoplifting conviction will be on your permanent criminal record and can never be removed.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/20/2012
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