Does my son need a lawyer if he was charged with petty larceny?

He’s accused of stealing a $5 cup.

Asked on February 16, 2013 under Criminal Law, Oklahoma


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Petty larceny for a $5 cup is not the most serious crime of the century, but yes, it does help when a defendant has an attorney.   It is extremely tempting to go to court, pled guilty, and pay a fine, but a criminal conviction can affect a number of opportunities in the long-run.... such that many people wished they had consulted with an attorney before they entered a plea.

Some professions will exclude or limit a license for certain convictions.  Many employers will not hire someone for a theft conviction.  I know it was only for a $5 cup-- but his criminal history will only reflect the conviction-- nothing about the true nature of the offense.  If your son is applying for financial aid or a scholarship and was in close running with another applicant-- the theft conviction could be a basis for them denying him funding.  Basically, nothing good can come from a theft conviction-- regardless of how easy it was to enter.

The advantage of having an attorney from your jurisdiction is that they will know more about local plea bargaining options.  Many jurisdictions now offer diversion programs where young offenders can earn dismissals through an information program very similar to being on probation.  If they complete all of the requirements, then the prosecutor will agree to drop the charges.  If this is not an option, he may know of other programs that are available to cases like your son's that will minimize the impact on his future. 

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