What can I expect in courtfor a petit larceny charge?

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What can I expect in courtfor a petit larceny charge?

I was caught shoplifting about $45 worth of stuff. I don’t have the money for a lawyer and I really want to go at this alone if I can. I’m in a very low income house; we barely make it by with bills and keeping food in the house. My husband works at a minimum wage job. It’s just hard for us to get by and that’s why I did what I did but I wish I would have never done it. I have been losing sleep and not eating because of the stress of going to jail over a stupid thing.

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Criminal Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Provided that you are a first-time offender, you can ask for something that most states call "diversion". This is an alternative sentencing program that, if granted, can allow you to end up with a clean criminal history record. They way it typically works is like this: A defendant goes to court and pleads guilty to the charge; the judge then puts the defendant on special probation; if all terms of the probation are successfully completed (community service, counseling, restitution, or the like) then the plea is withdrawn and the case is dismissed. Again, your record shoulf be automatically be cleared.

However, before attempting to defend yourself see if you are income eligible for representation by a public defender. If not, the see if there is law school nearby to where the court is; these schools typically run free/low cost legal clinics that handle these type cases. Also contact the local county bar association; many times attorneys will take such cases "pro bono" (free) or for a reduced fee depending on a person's income and circumstances.


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