What to do if I have been charged with shoplifting merchandise worth $56?

There is an arraignment set and is a misdemeanor charge. It was a horribly stupid act on my part and I am terrified and mortified. No one knows and I am unsure as to whether I should appear with an attorney. I have no one to confide in, I have made restitution and want to be done with this. Should I go to the arraignment alone? What can happen to me? It is set for next week

Asked on August 7, 2013 under Criminal Law, Florida


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

An offense such as this can still be serious. In most states, theft under $500 is a misdemeanor and can be punishable by jail time and a hefty fine. Additionally, the consequences of such a conviction can preclude you from finding employment, an apartment or obtaining certain student loans.  

In these type cases, if you are a first-time offender, a conviction can be avoided by something known as "diversion". This means that the offense is never recorded on your criminal history record. There is a procedure for this and your best best option is to consult with a criminal law attorney on the matter. 

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