What to do if while I was grocery shopping, I accidentally put a soda in my purse instead of the basket I was carrying?

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What to do if while I was grocery shopping, I accidentally put a soda in my purse instead of the basket I was carrying?

I was afraid to take it out because I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to steal it. I was gonna take it out and pay for it but the manager had already saw me on camera putting the soda in my purse. I apologized and said that I would pay for it but he called the police and I was arrested and charged with shoplifting. I was really tired from work at the time and it really was a simple mistake. I have to go to court. How should I handle this situation?

Asked on January 22, 2016 under Criminal Law, Louisiana

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you can afford an attorney to speak for you, that would be your best option.  Some parishes will let you talk to a prosecutor directly... but you will end up having to make admissions which could be used against you later.  An attorney can plead your accident/misunderstanding defense without the statements being used against you.
Regardless of whether you have an attorney or not, you need to inquire about any programs in the jurisdiction which allow you to participate in a diversion program.  A diversion program is a program that lets you earn a dismissal of your case in the event the prosecutor will not accept your misunderstanding defense. 
It's just a misdemeanor offense, but you still want the best offer possible... or one that eventually results in a dismissal.. because many employers will not hire individuals with theft convictions on their record.


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