What do I do if I made a stupid mistake yesterday and was arrested for petty theft?

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What do I do if I made a stupid mistake yesterday and was arrested for petty theft?

I am barely 18 years old, a high school student, with a clean record. The only problem is that I’m completely broke at the moment and unemployed because I play basketball. I have court tomorrow. What do you suggest I do?

Asked on December 1, 2015 under Criminal Law, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Do at least two things:
1.  Ask the court for a court appointed attorney.  Some petty theft cases will not qualify... but if your's does, then get one.  You do need someone to help you through the process.
2.  Arrange for a consultation with a couple of defense attorney's.  More and more are offering free consultations.  You may not be able to hire them, but you can still obtain some info on how to handle your case with the prosecutor.  For example, they can review the facts of your case to see if you have any defenses.  They can also let you know if there are any young offender programs to help you "earn" a dismissal of the charges.  It will take a bit of time, but gathering information on the programs available in your jurisdiction is a minor inconvenience.
When you are visiting with attorneys, also discuss the consequences of different types of pleas.  However your plea is structured is extremely important because if can effect your right to an expunction and can disqualify you from certain government programs (like scholarships) down the road.  So know and understand all of the consequences of your plea before you sign any paperwork.


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