arrested one time shoplifting, items were under $300, how do I pleaed?

Asked on July 5, 2009 under Criminal Law, Georgia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Since you are a first-time offender, you may be granted something known as "diversion".  If you are granted this, you will plead guilty to the charge but the plea will not be entered into the record.  Instead you will be given probation, have to make restitution (if applicable), and possibly perform community service.  If you successfully complete the terms of your probation, your case is dismissed.  You can then move to have your arrest record "expunged" (cleared).  If, however, you violate your probation is some way, the judge will reinstate your guilty plea and you will likely get the maximum allowable sentence for the offense; not to mention be saddled with a criminal record.

But first you should consult with an attorney on your case.  While diversion would be beneficial it may not be necessary if your attorney can get the charge dismissed.  This is a very fact sensitive area of the law and highly technical.  If, for example, the proper arrest procedures were not followed in some way they may be able to get your case thrown out.

Again, you should really consult with an attorney in your area.  He/she will best be able to advise you.  

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Although I do not practice law in the State of Georgia, here are my initial impressions.  In any criminal proceeding the question of "how to plea" must be determined by a variety of factors, including but not limited to the strength of the state's evidence, the merits of any potential defenses, the availability of potential diversionary programs, as previously discussed.  In many circumstances, diversionary programs are only offered one time; in other words, once you use the program you cannot use it again.  Therefore, prior to simply using a program you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you can resolve the charge favorably without using a program.  In some circumstances, an attorney will be able to obtain a dismissal/nolle if the state's evidence is weak, or if the police made a mistake during the arrest process.  Therefore, I recommend that you consult with and/or retain an attorney in the interest of obtaining the most favorable resolution of this matter as possible.

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am a lawyer in CT and practice in this area of the law.  If this is your first time offending the law then you should be able to get the state's atty to go easy on you so that what ever deal you make results in you not having a criminal record.  For instance, you can ask to do community service or pay a charitable contribution in exchange for a dismissal.  I suggest that you hire a lawyer if you can afford one to help here as it is more likely that you will get this dismissed without having a record.  I would not try to fight the charge ut rather go to the state's aty and be apologetic and ask how you can avoid a criminal record.

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