What can I expect when I go to court if I was cited with first offense misdemeanor shoplifting?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I expect when I go to court if I was cited with first offense misdemeanor shoplifting?

I didn’t go into store with the intent; it a stupid laps in judgement. I was cited at a grocery store for $20.

Asked on August 11, 2017 under Criminal Law, California


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Since this is a criminal offense you should consult directly with a defense attorney who might be able to get the charge dismissed on a technicality. The fact is that the sooner you get legal representation, the better the potential outcome. Even if the charge doesn't get dropped, for a first offense you can ask the prosecutor for "diversion". This is an alternative sentencing program whereby you'll enter a guilty plea, receive probation, and upon its successful completion your plea will be withdrawn and the charge dismissed. As a general rule, in such a case a criminal history record will automatically be cleared (although in some jurisdictions you may have to apply to get it "expunged" or cleared). However, diversion is only allowed for first time offenses. Accordingly, if you get into trouble again it will not be available to you. That's why if you can get a lawyer and they can get the case dismissed, you will be eligible for diversion if ever needed it in the future.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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