If I was caught shoplifting, what will happen to me at my arraignment?

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If I was caught shoplifting, what will happen to me at my arraignment?

The police were called, I was arrested and given a ticket and a court date and then released. I’m 21 and this is my first offense of any kind and I have a clean record. I am guilty and take responsibility for my actions but I have heard it could be better for me to plead not guilty. Is this accurate? Is it possible to have the misdemeanor charge changed to an infraction and would I ask the judge about this? Also, what will the punishment likely be; do you think that I will go to jail? I don’t think I can afford an attorney. Is there a way to get legal advice from the court, or speak to a public defender prior to my court date?

Asked on July 27, 2014 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You were charged with Petty Theft, correct?  That charge is a misdemeanor in California. The maximum penalties for most first-time petty theft convictions are a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), up to six (6) months in county jail, or both. If you ask for a public defender then you will probably be assigned him in court not before. I would go and speak with a good criminal defense attorney that does this on a regular basis.  


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