Should my friend plead guilty or a charge of shoplifting?

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Should my friend plead guilty or a charge of shoplifting?

My friend was arrested for shoplifting and accused of taking things. She always tries shoes on and then walks through the store to test them out. As soon as she had paid for her things the manager approached her. She instantly remembered the shoes. She was the taken into the office and rudely interrogated and then searched and cuffed. She is 56 and never stolen anything in her life. What should she do?

Asked on January 15, 2019 under Criminal Law, Montana

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Since shoplifting is a criminal offense, your friend should have legal representation. An experienced defense attoreny might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality. However, since she is a first-time offender, she will probably be offered  "diversion" (or MT's equivalent) which is an alternative sentencing program whereby a defendant pleads guilty to the charge and receives a special probation; upon its successful completion the charge is withdrawn and the case dismissed.  However, diversion is only allowed for a first offense. This means that if your friend gets into trouble again, it will not be available for her regarding any subsequent charge. That's why if she gets an attorney who can get the case dismissed, she will be eligible for diversion in the future if she should need it.

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Since shoplifting is a criminal offense, your friend should have legal representation. An experienced defense attoreny might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality. However, since she is a first-time offender, she will probably be offered  "diversion" (or MT's equivalent) which is an alternative sentencing program whereby a defendant pleads guilty to the charge and receives a special probation; upon its successful completion the charge is withdrawn and the case dismissed.  However, diversion is only allowed for a first offense. This means that if your friend gets into trouble again, it will not be available for her regarding any subsequent charge. That's why if she gets an attorney who can get the case dismissed, she will be eligible for diversion in the future if she should need it.


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