Do I plead not guilty or ask for continuance in order to have time to get an attorney for a misdemeanor retail theft ticket?

I’m over 25 year old and was stopped for $14.50 item. The police were called to write a ticket. I wasn’t asked to sign anything. Ticket says I can pay $200 fine or go to court in 5 weeks. I can’t afford a lawyer, do I plead not guilty and hope for a plea offer without an attorney, or ask for continuance to allow more time for me to get a lawyer? What are the chances of them offering a lesser crime like disturbing the peace? First time offender, no record of any kind, my concern is that I stand to lose my job if found guilty of this kind of crime. I’m embarassed and ashamed.

Asked on August 19, 2012 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Given the facts of your matter, I suggest that you seek a continuance of the matter that you have written about to get a criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford one then perhaps you might be appointed a public defender. If you are convicted of the charge, you could have a negative fall out down the road as a result.

You might qualify for a "diversion" program where if you are successful, the charge against you may be dismissed with no conviction. As to a lesser plea deal, I have no idea what the protocol is with the district attorney's office that is handling your matter.


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