Plead Guilty to Shoplifting Summary Offense?

I am over 18, Pennsylvanian, and I committed my first offense by shoplifting a
total of 127 in merchandise in a department store. Since that is a summary
offense and not a misdemeanor, I was told I am ineligible for a public defender. I
cannot afford a private lawyer and I am unsure what I should do.

Should I plead not guilty and request for ARD on my own? Also, how would I go
about doing that? …..Or should I just plead guilty, pay the fines, and get over it?

Thank you.

Asked on June 29, 2016 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First, arrange for some consultations with attorneys that visit in your jurisdiction.  Even if you cannot afford them, they can give you some important ideas on how to handle your case.  You want to visit with a local attorney because every jurisdiction is slightly different in the programs they offer.  Many offer "pre-trial" diversion programs for young offenders.  This is basically where you pay restitution, do some community service, and then "earn" a dismissal of your charges.  A local defense attorney can tell you what programs are available in your jurisdiction and how to apply for them.
Don't enter a plea without really understanding what you are facing.  I know it sounds like a minor offense because "it's just a misdemeanor."  However, it's a theft offense.  This means that many future employers could decide not to hire you if you have theft conviction on your record.  You are too young to have a permanent record like this... especially when most jurisdiction offer alternatives.
 


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