What to do if my friend was caught shoplifting and the police were called and they were given a ticket for a court date?

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What to do if my friend was caught shoplifting and the police were called and they were given a ticket for a court date?

The police were called because he was acting as though he didn’t have anything at first. What is the most they can be charge with and should they go without a lawyer? This person has nothing on their record.

Asked on December 25, 2012 under Criminal Law, West Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Since shoplifting is a criminal offense, your friend should have legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney might be able to get the charge dismissed. Since they are a first-time offender, they may also be able to arrange for "diversion" (or their state's equivalent). This is an alternative sentencing program whereby they will enter a guilty plea, receive a special probation and upon its successful the charge will be withdrawn and the case dismissed. Additionally, their criminal history record should be automatically cleared.

However, diversion is typically only allowed for first-time offenders. This means that if your friend gets into trouble again, diversion will not be available to them. That's why if they get a lawyer who gets the charge dismissed, they will be eligible for diversion in the future if they should ever need it.


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