What should I do if I received a summons regarding a court case for misdemeanor theft?

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What should I do if I received a summons regarding a court case for misdemeanor theft?

It has to do with work incident that happened 4 month ago. I accidentally took home gift cards that had $100 on each. The store sent a cop to my house and I gave them to him. No citation or report number was given at that time. Now, I just got a summons to report to court. I also have to give fingerprints and have my picture taken before arrainment. i’m m pleading not guilty and not taking any plea deal.

Asked on February 16, 2013 under Criminal Law, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

First thing is to start looking for a criminal defense attorney.  Some judge's will give you a continuance to finish hiring an attorney, but they will be more likely to do so if you have already made some progress to hiring an attorney.  Even though your theft arose from the employment setting, you will need an attorney that practices criminal law because they will know best how to assert the defenses you are raising.

Second thing is just to keep quiet.  While you are looking for an attorney and completing the other tasks (like fingerprinting), make no comments about your case to anyone.  If you start talking about the case to an officer or court officer, then these statements could come back and be used against you later.  If you are still employed with the "victim" employer, then still keep statements to yourself.  You don't want a "trusted" co-worker to be called to testify against you later. 

Third thing to do is make sure that you show up on time.  Failing to appear for your summons can result in a new warrant being issued for your arrest.  If the court where your case is pending has a website, take the time to review the judge's local rules and procedures to familiarize yourself with the layout.  Some judge's have simple rules like "tuck in your shirt," while others have specific forms that you need to request a resetting of your case to hire your attorney.  Reviewing the site ahead of time will increase your comfort level with the court, even though it is from an obviously uncomfortable situation.


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