If I have court tomorrow for misdemeanor shoplifting and do not have a public defender, what should I do?

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If I have court tomorrow for misdemeanor shoplifting and do not have a public defender, what should I do?

Asked on December 10, 2012 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Since this is a criminal offense, it would be advisable for you to have legal representation. An experienced defense attorney might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality, etc. If that's not a possibility, since you are a first-time offender, a lawyer can help to arrange with the prosecutor something known as "diversion" (or state's equivalent). This is an alternative sentencing program. Pursuant to diversion you plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation and upon its successful completion the charge is withdrawn and the case dismissed.

However, remember that diversion is only allowed for a first offense. Consequently, if you again get into trouble, it will not be available to you regarding any subsequent charge. That's why if you get an attorney and they get your case dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future if you should ever need it.


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