Should I get a lawyer for a first time misdemeanor for petty theft?

UPDATED: Nov 29, 2012

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Should I get a lawyer for a first time misdemeanor for petty theft?

I have never been in trouble before and don’t know what to do.

Asked on November 29, 2012 under Criminal Law, California


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Pett theft is a criminal offense, consequently you really should have legal representation. Experienced legal counsel might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality or at least get it reduced. Since you are a first-time offender, you will probably be offered soemthing called "diversion", which is an alternative sentencing program. Pursuant to its terms, you will plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation and upon its successful completion the charge will be withdrawn and your case dismissed. The fact is that you do not need a lawyer for this.

However, diversion is only allowed for a first-time offense. This means that if you get into trouble again, it will not be available to you. That's why if you get an attorney and they get your case dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion if you should need it for any future charges.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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