What should I do after committing retail fraud? 7 Answers as of June 06, 2011

I was at Meijer a week ago and in the way to my car I was stopped. I had in my bag some energy bars what I didn't pay for it. I was nice and I didn't give hard time to the person what stopped me after she filled up some forms she called the cop what was nice too he wrote me a ticket ...with that ticket I have to go to court in 10 days ...I have to pay to Meijer 200$. My question is what is better to plea "guilty or non contest"? After the plea what will happen to me. I will like to keep this secret from my husband.

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I would recommend retaining an attorney for this matter. This response does not contain specific legal advice. If you need specific legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. I would never recommend pleading guilty to any offense until after you consulted with an attorney. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor needs to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the matter is a type of proceeding where you are required to plead guilty or not guilty, i.e., arraignments, you can always stand mute and the court will enter a plea of not guilty or just request to plead not guilty at that time. There is no advantage generally to pleading guilty at an arraignment and the court will certainly understand if you wish to consult with an attorney prior to making that decision. Again, consult with an attorney for specific legal advice. If a person allegedly stole something from a store, they may be charged with anything from a misdemeanor or civil infraction to felonies counts, depending on the factors and depending on what the prosecutor could potentially prove. A person's prior criminal history, especially if they have prior theft convictions, may result in enhanced charges. In some limited instances, the store-owners or employees may not bother to get the police involved; however, a majority of large discount retailers (i.e., Sams-Club, Target, Costco, etc.) usually request police involvement with every allegation of theft. Given the possible consequences for a conviction and given the wide range of potential charges, it is especially important to obtain the guidance of an experienced defense attorney for these types of charges. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations. It is worth a few phone calls. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I would recommend retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/6/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
Your Court date in 10 days is really to set up a pre-trial conference. When you do so, your pre-trial is the time when you should have an attorney with you. The Attorney will be able to discuss your case with the prosecutor to see whether there is an acceptable plea which is agreeable. Perhaps a deferred sentence or even an under advisement or first offender program. Alternatively, you could seek an expungement after 5 years if you have no other felony or misdemeanor convictions. My best advice is that you hire an attorney to fo over your case ant to explore the options you m ay have based on your Court, your Judge, your record, and what is best for you. The answer to the most immediate question is that you should plea "not guilty" to the offense. You should also avoid making any statements about the offense to any police officer, anyone at the Court, and certainly to the Judge. I cannot address whether or not your husband will find out about the offense. This is your affair. Notices will be sent to the house about Court dates, so he may learn of the offense. Your case is confidential with the attorney you hire. Should you need assistance in this matter, including having the case reviewed for possible dismissal/trial, negotiation of a favorable plea, or otherwise, then you may contact my office to set up an appointment.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/2/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
You need to consult with an attorney specifically on this matter. These are questions you should be asking him/her and if he/she cannot answer them for you it may be time to find another attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/2/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
Your first court appearance is called an arraignment. At the arraignment, the court will advise you of the charge against you, the maximum penalties and your rights, including your right to be represented by an attorney. The court will also ask you how you plead. If you enter a not guilty plea, the matter will be set for pre-trial and if not resolved there for trial. If you plead guilty, the court could sentence you at that time or refer the matter to the probation department for a pre-sentence investigation. Retail fraud 3rd is a 93 day misdemeanor which means the maximum jail sentence is 93 days. If this is your first offense, and you otherwise have a clean record, it is likely that you would be placed on probation with various conditions. You will also have to pay fines and court costs as assessed by the court. The paper you got from Meijer is a civil damage portion of the retail fraud statute. The statute allows a retailer to charge you 10 times the value of the property stolen but not more than $200. This is payable directly to the merchant, in this case Meijer, and has nothing to do with any criminal charges.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/2/2011
Attorneys of Michigan, PLLC
Attorneys of Michigan, PLLC | Daniel Hajji
You should retain a Michigan criminal defense attorney to help keep this conviction off your record. To answer your question, a No Contest (aka nolo contendre) is a better option of course, however, a plea of no contest or guilty to retail fraud, the conviction will stay on your record for the rest of your life. A good criminal defense attorney can attempt to achieve a plea deal that keeps the conviction from going on your record and at the same time prevent effects on your job, employment opportunities, reputation and so forth. Paying Meijers at this time is not always a good idea until you resolve the criminal matter first. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney for a consultation regarding the circumstances of your matter.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/1/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    If you intentionally steal something from a place of business less than $200, it is retail fraud in the 3rd degree. That is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or $500 in fines. The $200 you paid is a civil penalty to the merchant to compensate for the items that were stolen. If you have nothing else on your record, you will probably be offered a diversion program. That means you will have to do a form of probation usually concentrating on community service and sometimes classes. As long as you successfully complete it, the charge will not appear on your public record. That's the most likely scenario. I don't see you being punished anymore than probation at the most. You should contact an experienced criminal attorney if you have more questions or need more peace of mind about the situation. Best of everything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/1/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You need to hire an attorney and keep this off your permanent criminal record. I can help you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/1/2011
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