How to avoid a shoplifting charge on my record?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How to avoid a shoplifting charge on my record?

I was just caught shoplifting 18 worth of merchandise. They had me sign some papers and the police wrote me a citation. I have a fee and a court date. I’m fine with paying the fee, I know what I did was wrong, but I really can’t afford to have this on my record. This is my first offense. What are my chances of not getting it on my record in the first place or getting it expunged if Im found not guilty?

Asked on December 30, 2016 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Since shoplifting is still a criminal offense, you should consider having legal representation. An experienced criminal lawyer might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality or at least get it reduced. Also, since you are a first-time offender you should be eligible for something known as "diversion". This is an alternative sentencing program whereby you will plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation, and upon its successful completion the charge will be withdrawn and your case will be dismissed. Additionally, your criminal record history should be cleared automatically (but you should still check). That all having been said, diversion is only allowed for a first offense which means that if you get into trouble again, it will not be available for you regarding any subsequent charge(s). That's why if you get an attoreny who can possibly get your case is dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future if you should ever need it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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