What to expect for a first offense shoplifting charge?

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What to expect for a first offense shoplifting charge?

My friend and I who are 16 got caught shoplifting. We got arrested, printed, and need to go to court soon. I did some research and found out that it’s best to plead not guilty. However, we may have signed some documents in which we admitted that we have shoplifted. Can you give us some information on what is going to happen? I heard that we can ask for ACOD or other programs that can dismiss our charges if we follow certain procedures. Is that possible for us? Also, we just received a civil demand notice of $350. Do we have to pay it? 

Asked on January 27, 2012 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

Philip Petersen / The Law Offices of Philip Petersen

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking to the limited facts presented:

First, you should hire a competent attorney licensed to practice in your location, and discuss all of the facts fully with that attorney for specific advise. 

You appear to be under the Jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court (AL).  If so, you will appear before the Court for a "pretrial" hearing where you, your attorney, and the district attorney will discuss your case and possible plea bargain offers.  At that time, you may decide to plea (in AL you would plead that the allegations were "true" or "not true" instead of "guilty" or "not guilty" in Juvenile Court), or set the case for trial.  You and your attorney should discuss all the facts in your case (including any statements you may have made, whether or not your parent(s) was present while you were questioned by authorities, etc), and the applicable law in making your decision.  In Juvenile Court there are no juries, the Judge is the Finder of Fact in the case. 

There may be programs, as you describe in your question, available to you.  Your attorney should discuss them with you.  Usually, the district attorney and the Judge have to agree that you are eligible and deserve entry into such programs.  First time offenders are generally allowed entry into such programs.  Of course, your behavior while you are on bond (not in detention pending disposition of your case) is also a factor in determining whether or not you may enter such a program.

I am not sure what a "civil demand notice", as you term it, is.  If you have been sued in civil court you should, again, hire a competent attorney licesned in your area to handle such situations.  If this is related to your shoplifting case, you should bring this to your attorney's attention for him to evaluate.  Generally, restitution is a remedy that the Juvenile Court can impose to make a victim whole.  The victim may also pursue remedies in civil court.  Generally, your attorney can have civil actions stayed, pending the outcome of criminal actions.  Without more facts, it is hard to even give general advise on this aspect of your question.

Good luck.


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