How best to handle a minor shoplifting charge?

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How best to handle a minor shoplifting charge?

I shoplifted 6 packs of breath mints from a grocery store. I was given a ticket for a court date. The store said that they observed me doing this several times in the past. Should I fight the charge? Also, can they make me pay them for the candy they said I took in the past? There was no mention of any incident other than the date I was approached by the store on the ticket. I know it is no excuse but I suffer from major depression and my medication wasn’t working. I told my doctor what happened and he put me on additional medicine. Should I tell the judge any of this if asked?

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Criminal Law, Tennessee

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all calm down.  It was not a good idea to do what you did and yes it is stealing.  But they can not now come back and say that they saw you do this in the past - and what? they let you get away with it - and try and add these charges to the charge presently before the court.  The court will not allow it or should not allow it.  Ask to have an attorney appointed for you for the proceeding.  If you are being charged with petty theft (which is what shoplifting is) then you are entitled to an attorney.  I somehow think that the matter will be reduced to another charge and you will be asked to pay back the store for the mints.  As for the issue about the depression that is an element that your attorney may want to consider when deciding the strategy for your case.  Good luck.


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