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  1. #1

    Default First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting - What Can I Expect

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Tennessee

    I'm currently residing in TN, I shoplifted about $100, maybe a little more worth of a couple things from Best Buy and got caught. It will not happen again, I can assure you... But what can I expect in court?

    I assumed I would go in and plead guilty, but after reading a few forum posts I'm not sure if that's what's going to go on.

    I expect some kind of fine, some community service, but how long will this stay on my record? Is there any way to keep it off my record? I don't have a job as of now, but would I be able to pay off a public defender over time?

    I am currently looking for a job as I just moved to TN and I have a feeling having this on my record will really hinder that search, but I don't want to stand up in front of a judge and look like a jerk if I say "not guilty, your honor".

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,560

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    You do want to plead "Not Guilty" and ask for a Public Defender.

    Not guilty gives you a chance of a plea deal to a lesser charge, or a Diversion or First Time Offenders program.

    Yes, this will go on your record. Your name may also be entered into the National Retail Theft Database. Yes, a shoplifting conviction will make job hunting difficult.

    The Theft Database...if Best Buy subscribes, then your name would be in it, and seen by other retailers during background checks.

    Even if you get a plea deal to a lesser charge, a background search can still show the original charge. And many job applications still ask for full disclosure.

  3. #3

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    Thank you for replying.

    What kind of "lesser charge" would even apply to my situation? It's painfully obvious that I shoplifted, and I admit to doing it.

    I'm fully expecting potentially large fines, probation, and community service. My biggest hope is that after a probation period, I can get the charge expunged.
    Unless they send me to jail... which I hope wouldn't happen since it's a first offense. ):

    Thank you, Pandora. I'm not sure if I will plead "not guilty", or not... I can't comprehend how it would make the situation any easier to deal with or get around.

    Even if I wanted to, I have no idea how I'd ask. I've never been in a court room, except for teen court as a juror a long time ago.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,560

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    Right now, it would be a good idea for you to go view a few court sessions, see how things operate.

    I shoplifted two years ago, and volunteer here ever since. So you are getting this advice from first hand experience.

    I ended up with with a deal so that I plead guilty to "Disorderly Person", instead of Retail Fraud. Looks better on an employment application.....

    As for Guilty vs Not Guilty:
    - Not guilty means you want the State to prove their case.
    - Not guilty means your lawyer/public defender and the prosecutor will have a talk, and try to come to a deal for you. Lesser charge, Diversion, First Time Offenders program.....

    Guilty means....the judge has no choice but to sentence under guidelines, and you have a Guilty of Retail Fraud on your record.

  5. #5

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    Okay... How do I view court sessions? Is there some kind of sign-up list, or do I just go in?

    If I get a public defender, will it (as far as from your experience) cost me more than five hundred dollars?
    Will I have a chance to pay that (as well as the criminal fees and fines) over time, or will I be SOL and have to pay it all at once?
    I can pay it eventually, just without a job it's hard to scrape up five hundred dollars all at once.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,560

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    There is a pay back obligation with the P.D. and it varies by area. I had a lawyer, but did learn a PD was $250 in my area.

    As for attending court sessions, just go to the court house.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Apple Valley CA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    Just to let you know i stole a 18pk of beer in CA it was my first offense ever and was charged with BURGLARY its not just petty theft if they want to screw you i recieved 120 county jail sentence and 3 yrs felony probation plus $1,200 in fines for $20 dollars of merchandise
    Good Luck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    If you go on diversion or a first offenders program for theft under $500 will this still show up on my background check. What is the best way to go about getting rid of these charges. I am about to graduate college and I am absolutely mortified by my actions. I am scared to death that no matter what I do or how hard I try this will be a detriment to me getting a good job. Can anyone help recommend a good course of action? I am also in the state of TN.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    North Miami Beach
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    If you go on diversion or a first offenders program for theft under $500 will this still show up on my background check. What is the best way to go about getting rid of these charges. I am about to graduate college and I am absolutely mortified by my actions. I am scared to death that no matter what I do or how hard I try this will be a detriment to me getting a good job. Can anyone help recommend a good course of action? I am also in the state of TN.
    Unless you're found not guilty it will show up on your record unless the prosecutor allows you to plead to a non criminal ordinance offense. Not all courts give that option as it usually a town by town decision. Other than those options you're only other option is to have the conviction expunged, but that can take years and thousands of dollars.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: First Time Offender, Caught Shoplifting. What Can I Expect

    My daughter 19 caught shoplifting $100 (4 items) in Macys on Long Island in NY. Civil fine $500 . She was arrested, fingerprinted,photographed and ordered to appear in court next week. Police officer who took her from macys to station said since 1st offense he would speak to DA. He said that it would be dropped to violation and if no more problems in 6 mo. it would not be on file. He strongly recommended that we NOT hire a lawyer. What should I do?

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