What can I do if I was with someone who was shoplifting but I didn’t steal anything yet they said I was an accessory?

I have never been in trouble of any sort. They gave me a citation for shoplifting of $120. I didn’t do

anything. How can I get this off of my record.

Asked on May 25, 2016 under Criminal Law, West Virginia


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

To be an accessory, you had to have done something in furtherance of the offense.  Basically, mere presence in the vacinity of the real offending party alone will not be sufficient for a conviction.
You have a defense, but you do need assistance in presenting that defense.  You really need to hire a defense attorney to assist you with presenting your defense.  If you attempt to present it on your own, you could accidentally make statements that could hurt your case and be used against you later by the prosecution.  If a defense attorney pleads your case, then those statements cannot be held against you.
A theft case is not a huge case... but it can still affect your life.  Some employers will not hire you with a theft conviction on your record.  In some states, you also loose the right to vote after a theft conviction.  Bottom line, despite the apparently minor nature of a shoplifting charge, a theft conviction can have long-term and lasting consequences on your life.

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