I got caught shoplifting at Kohl’s. Cops were called and court date set. What do I need to know?

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I got caught shoplifting at Kohl’s. Cops were called and court date set. What do I need to know?

They issued me a citation and I have a
court date.Total value of items was
172.96. I am also a student, will this
affect this in anyway? This is my first
offence… and my last

Asked on October 24, 2016 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Your first step is to make sure that you appear for court.  If you fail to appear, then the judge could issue a warrant for your arrest and you could be charged with an additional offense of "failure to appear." 
Your second step is to at least visit with a couple of defense attorneys in your jurisdiction to see what diversion programs are available in your jurisdiction.  If you are a student, then some jurisdictions will offer diversion programs to young or first time offenders.  Basically, offenders "earn" the right to a dismissal by jumping through a series of hoops.   This means you get to avoid a conviction on your record.  You don't have to hire the attorney....but you should at least visit with a couple to educate yourself about the programs available in your area and how to access them. 
A theft conviction may not be completely "life altering" because it's just a misdemeanor.  However, a misdemeanor can still have an impact on your life and career.  Some employers will not allow you to be hired or licensed if you have a theft conviction on your record.  If you recieve a scholarship for school, some programs will limit or deny you access to private scholarships if you have a theft conviction on the basis that it demonstrates poor moral character.
What it really demonstrates is that you are young and you did something stupid.  This charge, however, should not haunt you for the rest of your life.  Do a little research and put the effort in to get the best plea deal that eventually results in the charges going away.  From there, you can live your life...but with a valuable life lesson.


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