If I received a citation for shoplifting under $50 and have a court date, is there any way for this to not be on my permanent record or being dismissed?

It is my first offense.

Asked on April 21, 2014 under Criminal Law, Alaska

Answers:

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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Every court is slightly different, but many prosecutors will grant you leniency if you do not have a record.  Sometimes you can bargain for a conditional dismissal-- this is where you agree to do certain things in exchange for the prosecutor letting your charges go.  In your case, you may want to bargain for paying restitution and completing an anti-theft class-- assuming that you are guilty.  If you are not guilty and there is no evidence that you completed the crime, then you should fight the charges.

Word of caution though-- when you go to court, a minor offense defendants go up and directly speak to the prosecutor about their case.  They don't seem to understand that they are giving the person who is seeking to convict them additional evidence to use against them.  Since this is your first offense, you may want to consider hiring a private attorney.  I know that it is more costly than handling yourself, but the attorney's statements are not your statements-- so you cannot be quoted in trial later should things not work out with a plea bargain.  To that end... try to find an attorney that is already familar with this court and prosecutor.  They will have a better feel of what exactly is will take to get a dismissal to help save your record.  Once you get the criminal case disposed of, then you can see what expunction or non-disclosure options are available for your case... depending on how the criminal case was resolved.


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