What to do if I was caught shoplifting from a mall about 2 weeks ago?

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What to do if I was caught shoplifting from a mall about 2 weeks ago?

It added up to about $150. I’m 17 and it’s my very first criminal offense. What will the outcome be? Should I get an attorney?

Asked on October 18, 2012 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that shoplifting is a criminal offense. Consequently, you should have legal representation. An experienced defense attorney might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality or at least get the charge reduced. However, since you are a first-time offender, you will probably be offered "diversion" (or your state's equivalent) which is an alternative sentencing program. With diversion you will plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation and upon its successful completion the charge will be withdrawn and your case dismissed.  You should be aware that diversion is only allowed for a first offense. This means that if you get into trouble again, it will not be available to you. That's why if you get an a lawyer and they get the your case dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion in the future if you should need it.


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