What should I expect in court if I am convicted of petty theft?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What should I expect in court if I am convicted of petty theft?

I was caught for stealing items under $500. This is my first offense and I am very worried because I do not know what to expect in court. Am I able to do

community service for this offense?

Asked on March 12, 2016 under Criminal Law, Indiana


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If this is your first offense, then you are looking at a probation type offer, a fine, or some type of community service.  This is not a go to jail and throw away the key case.  It's a misdemeanor first time offense.... which means that you will get more leniency than a career offender.
Your first time in court is really about administrative matters.  The court will ask how you want to plea and if you have an attorney.  You can ask to talk to the prosecutor, but just keep in mind that anything you tell the prosecutor can be used against you later.
Before you go, you should at least have a consultation with an attorney so you can learn about the consequences of your plea and the programs available in the court that your case is being handled by. This is just a misdeeanor, but many employers will not hire someone who has a theft conviction on their record.  So, you do want to look at options for the best deal possible or any diversion programs where you can earn a dismissal.

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