Caught Shoplifting at a retail store I worked at.

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Caught Shoplifting at a retail store I worked at.

I was caught shoplifting less than $200 worth of merchandise from a retail store. I have never done anything like this before or been accused of any crimes in the past. I have an upcoming court date set. What can I expect at this court hearing? How can I prepare myself? What is the best way to go about having this taken off of my record so it doesn’t effect future employment opportunities?

Asked on June 17, 2009 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

In Minnesota, in cases of theft where the value of the property or services stolen is $250 or less,  the penalties are: imprisonment for not more than 90 days or to payment of a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.

As to your case, when you state that you worked it out, I take that to mean that you made restitution.  If so, that will weigh in your favor with the court as will the fact that this is your first offense.

As a first-time offender, you may be granted something known as "diversion".  If you are granted this, you will plead guilty to the charge but the plea will not be entered into the record.  Instead you will be given probation, have to make restitution (if applicable), and possibly perform community service.  If you successfully complete the terms of your probation, your case is dismissed.  You can then move to have your arrest record "expunged" (cleared).  If, however, you violate your probation is some way, the judge will reinstate your guilty plea and you will likely get the maximum allowable sentence for the offense; not to mention be saddled with a criminal record.

As to expungement, it can be granted in cases where diversion is given.  At such time as your probation ends, you can make application to the appropriate court for it (there may be a statutory waiting period between probation termination and when you can actually file for this however).

You really should consider consulting with an attorney in your state.  This is a criminal matter and as you are aware it can effect things in you future such as employment.


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