If I got caught shoplifting, what is going to happen to me and should I get a public defender?

The value of merchandise was $218. I got arrested and they gave me a court date for 4th degree in shoplifting. The is my first offense; I have a clean record.

Asked on November 11, 2014 under Criminal Law, New Jersey


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you should be represented for a number of reasons.  First, you need to plead not guilty and see if there is a diversion program (like a shoplifting course) that you can get in to which there may in fact be.  If you are convicted you always have to answer "yes" on those job applications and theft crimes are the worst for an employer to see.  If you enter the diversion program and satisfactorily complete it then the charge will go away in probably 6 months and then all you have to do is make a motion to seal the arrest and get your prints back.  The fact that this was over $200 is also an issue in new Jersey and know that you could receive a criminal fine as well as a civil penalty if the merchant institutes suit. You need to insure that this goes smoothly.  Get help.

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