What to expect in court for a first-time shoplifting offense?

UPDATED: Jul 18, 2011

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What to expect in court for a first-time shoplifting offense?

Charged with Petite Larceny Class A Misdemeanor for shoplifting $65 of merchandise. Got arrested on scene; taken to police dept for questioning and fingerprints; released go 4 hours later. Police handed me a pink slip which stated that I had to come back for court in 3 days. Ido not have attorney; I do not have job to pay for attorney; I am a student part-time in college; I live at home. Never been to court. What should I expect? How to pay for fines when I don’t have a job? Diversion programs? I want to avoid jail. I suffer from a mental disorder which may have caused my impulsivity. Do I plead guilty or not guilty?

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York


S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you have never been arrested before you normally will get what is called an Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. This means that the court will adjourn the matter for 6 months and as long as you stay out of trouble the matter will be dismissed and your records destroyed. However normally in order to get this disposition you must meet certain conditions. This depends on the county you are in. Most counties require you to take a course called stoplift which is usually on a saturday and runs 4-5 hours. Other counties require  you to perform a number of hours of community service. Some require you to do both of these. Others require you to undergo a drug/alcohol screening and perhaps a mental evaluation. Do not plead guilty when you go. Speak to the DA and see if they offer you one of these options

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