If I’m 17 and was caught shoplifting, will it stay on my record?

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If I’m 17 and was caught shoplifting, will it stay on my record?

And I have school and I don’t know how community hours or probation works but the charge was under $50 dollars so it’s misdemeanor. I don’t know to get a lawyer to help with my case or not? It was my first time.

Asked on January 4, 2016 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You really should have legal counsel since criminal charges are involved. An experienced defense attorney may be able to get the charge dismissed or reduced (or even win an acquittal at trial). Also, you may be eligible for something known as "diversion" (or your state's equvialent). Wiith diversion, you will need to plead guilty in court but if you successfully complete your sentence, then your plea will be withdrawn and the case dismissed. Your record will be left clean. 
However, diversion is for first-time offenders only. Therefore, if you get into trouble again, it will not be available to you. Accordingly, you really may want to consult directly with a lawyer in the area of where the incident occurred. If they get the charge dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future should you ever need it (hopefully not).
Even if you cannot get into a diversion program, you may be able to later get the charge "expunged". This means that your RAP sheet can be cleared. However, not all states allow for a misdemeanor conviction to be cleared from a criminal history record. Again, speaking with a criminal law attorney would be best.


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