I was caught shoplifting – what now?

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I was caught shoplifting – what now?

I was just caught shoplifting. I’m 18, and this is the first time I’ve been
caught committing a crime. A police officer came and I was placed under arrest,
but I wasn’t taken to the police station. He filled out paperwork, handcuffed me,
and had me sit in the back of his car while he did so. I was released because I
cooperated and under the condition that I go into the station soon to give
fingerprints and have pictures taken. What happens next? Will I go to court? Will
I go to jail? Do I need a lawyer? Or is this process done once I do fingerprints
and pictures?

Asked on March 20, 2017 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Since a charge for shoplifting is a criminal matter, you should try to get legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality. If that's not possible, you can at least ask the court for "diversion" (or your state's equivalent) which is an alternative sentencing program. In such a program, you plead guilty, receive a special probation, and upon its successfull completion the charge will be withdrawn and your case dismissed. As a general rule, your record will automatically be cleared (however, in some jurisdictions you may have make application to have your record "expunged"). However, diversion is allowed for a first offense only, so if you again get into trouble, it will not be available to you. That's why if you get an attorney who can get your case dismissed, you'll be eligible for diversion in the future should you need it.

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Since a charge for shoplifting is a criminal matter, you should try to get legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality. If that's not possible, you can at least ask the court for "diversion" (or your state's equivalent) which is an alternative sentencing program. In such a program, you plead guilty, receive a special probation, and upon its successfull completion the charge will be withdrawn and your case dismissed. As a general rule, your record will automatically be cleared (however, in some jurisdictions you may have make application to have your record "expunged"). However, diversion is allowed for a first offense only, so if you again get into trouble, it will not be available to you. That's why if you get an attorney who can get your case dismissed, you'll be eligible for diversion in the future should you need it.


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