My question involves criminal law for the state of: California
I am 21 y/o & committed a first time offense (488/490.5 PC) of $103 at the Target in Davis, CA. I know I'm completely stupid and dumb but I couldn't resist taking some items because I knew I couldn't afford to spend money on frivolous things (being the poor college student that I am). I am experiencing so much anxiety and stress from this right now; I regret my decision so much.
What happened: Skip to questions below if you'd like...
I slipped the items into my bag, and I guess I was caught on camera. When I was exiting, a guy blocked me and forcefully insisted I return inside with him. Asking over and over, "you know what you did right?" Well, I was physically shaking at this point so of course I cooperated, said yes, and went into a private room with him. He then told me to take all Target property out of my bag, and I complied.
They took my picture, copied my ID, but didn't ask me to sign anything. He then mentioned they had been watching me as soon as I had entered, and knew it wasn't my first time shoplifting. They kept pressuring me to give an estimate of how many times I had done it, to which I mentioned, maybe 3. The LPO said that it was definitely more , so I said less than 8. I had shoplifted, but few and far between. I know it was 3 - 4 times MAX!! So my second answer was "less than 8" because I wanted to be more ambiguous. LPO said he knew for sure it was less than 8 BUT long story short; they pressured me and guided my answers to possibly saying I had stolen at least 5 or 6 times, and over a couple hundred total. I KNOW this is not true. BUT, he said nothing mattered from the past, only what I had taken this time.
Target scans all the 'stolen' items onto a receipt to file on the report. One thing I'm extremely confused about is that the item amount I had taken I knew was maximum around $70 - 80, I heard one LPO say to the other that is was $83? But the LPOs scanned one more thing (I knew that price was $7), but suddenly they told me the total was $103. And, when I asked to see the receipt, I was rudely denied. Well, I am a criminal, but I felt that the total amount was suspicious....
Because of the dollar amount, the officer was then called in, and I was taken down to the station where I was fingerprinted/mug shot taken. My Miranda rights were also read. I did admit my guilt, I don't know if my honesty will work with me or against me though. The officer was extremely kind (something I greatly appreciate) and told me that although I was given a court date, the D.A. would probably send me a letter to work something out because they don't have the time to prosecute me for "100 dollars worth of junk".
I know I'm in the wrong & I just REALLY want to solve this, do what I need to do and put it all behind me and move onto a crime-free life. It will NOT happen again, and I was scared crapless when I as caught.
1. Since the officer told me the D.A. would probably send me a letter, and that I likely wouldn't go to court, is there chance for a diversion or an infraction? Does anyone know the laws regarding shoplifting in this area? Which one is better in terms of having a clean record?
2. Will my arrest be on record and affect my future career possibilities? Even if I get the diversion or infraction?
3. What can I do so that this doesn't affect my chances for law/grad school? This is the thing I'm worried most about. I knew I shouldn't have stolen, especially since a law career is something I'm hoping to pursue.
4. 490.5 means I will be sent a Civil Demand letter right? How much will the fee probably be?
5. Even if I don't go to court, can I talk with a P.D.? I can't afford a lawyer.
6. If I admitted to shoplifting, do I now have to plead Guilty if I go to court?
7. Since I think the LPOs wrote in the report I had shoplifted 5-6 times like the same amount of stuff will that affect me in some way? I tried to deny it but they were vehement about it. Is it possible they could have confused me with someone else? It is a college town and there are tons of student shoplifters...
8. I'm about to graduate, will it affect my job opportunities?
Thank you! & I appreciate any and all advice
I understand that I was wrong and I made a mistake, so keep any negative thoughts to yourself; thanks.