How doI get out of taking the charge “obtaining merchandice false pretenses” so thatI will not violate my probation?

I have no felony; 2 larceny misdemeanors (probation). I went to a national retail chain looking for a thermometer. I walked to the section, picked up 2, then I went to the customer service desk to get information on them. The woman was in conversation, not really paying any attention when I asked about the items. She asked me to go to the doors to get a sticker for the prices so she wouldn’t have to scan them. When I get the sticker and came back she then asked for my ID and handed me a gift card and says happy holidays – but I wasn’t asking for a return. I thought that the giftcard was a gift for shopping at the store.

Asked on December 21, 2010 under Criminal Law, North Carolina


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

For sure you are in a difficult position here and need an attorney to represent you; you will no longer be considered to be a first-time offender.  A skilled lawyer may be able to have the charge dismissed or reduced.  At the very least, if you hire one from the area where all of this occurred they will have local contacts within the court that they can use to your best advantage regarding any potential probation violation.

If money is an issue, see if you qualify for representation by the PD or Legal Aid.  If not, check to see if there is a law school nearby to where this happened; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases.  Also, you contact the local Bar Association in the county in question; they may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances. 

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