I'm 19 years old, an academically successful college sophomore and I've got a completely clean record. I was arrested for the listed offense. My friends and I went to a gas station to get food. I had a canvas bag with me, and I placed some candy items in the bag. The clerk was wise to me and as my friends had Subway sandwiches made for them, the police drove up to the store and entered it.
They asked what I had in my bag, and I immediately blurted out that I was going to pay for it. Equally as immediately, the officer began aggressively asking questions like "So which one of you has the marijuana?," "How much have you been drinking tonight?," "and Have you ever smoked before?", refusing to accept that firstly a) none of us have even touched marijuana, and b) we certainly didn't have any that night, nor alcohol.
The cop took all of our licenses and my wallet, checking to see how much money I had (only $2). Then he opened my bag and went through the items of food I had stolen: five items, totaling $8.35. He then instructed me to place my hands behind my back, and I was handcuffed. He took me out to the back seat of his police car, and went back inside to continue questioning my friends. Then he came back, opened the door, and as he was digging around through my back pockets in a hopeless and desperate attempt to find marijuana, he began asking me questions such as why I didn't ask my friends to lend me the money, since they had it (I answered that in retrospect, I should have); whether I felt what I did was wrong (I answered yes); and if I had stolen from the store in the past (I answered no).
My friends eventually were told to leave after their pockets were also searched for any sort of drugs, which none of them had. I was taken to the police station, patted down and frisked (still no marijuana), handcuffed to the bench, asked various questions about myself and fingerprinted. Ultimately, I was not taken to the county jail on bail because I was a "gentleman" and entirely calm and cooperative throughout the proceedings, and I also live just a block from the police station. But I was handed sheets of paper charging me with petty larceny and told I had a court appearance in less than a month.
When I got home, I read the charges and realized the third sheet of paper listed that "the DA intends to offer into evidence certain voluntary oral and/or written statements made by the defendant to cop's name on date.
The substance of said statement:
'In retrospect I know it was wrong and I shouldn't have done it'"
I was also told that if I wished to "attack the alleged statements as involuntary, [I] am hereby required to notify the DA of said fact within the time period provided," and whether I desire a preliminary hearing on such issues.
I'll be consulting some lawyers I know soon for unpaid advice, but in the mean time, I have some questions.
1) My statement to the officer, in my view, was far from "voluntary." I was being searched as an intimidating police officer asked me several pointed questions about the incident, and on top of that, I was never read my rights. Unfortunately, I don't have very much faith in the local law enforcement officials and I believe it would most likely be my word against his.
2) On top of that, could challenging the voluntariness of my collected statements have negative implications on my sentencing? Is it risky?
3) Keeping in mind my status as a previously 100% clean record, as well as a college student at a prestigious public university with a high grade point average, as well as what could be perceived issues regarding the offense ($8.35 not even stolen from the store, but with my "intent" based upon a "confession" to which I was not read my rights), what do you think a probable sentence is? I'm a little scared considering this is a class A misdemeanor, which according to my preliminary research, carries between a sentencing of one year probation (minimum) to one year in prison (maximum.)
4) I've yet to even tell my family about this, as they'd be very upset with me as well as worried given the maximum sentence even if I'm unlikely to receive it. We don't have much money and I'm not sure I'll be able to afford a lawyer. I'm beginning to realize that a lawyer will probably be necessary, though. How much approximately do you think this will cost for a case such as mine? Is there any possibility I could have a lawyer appointed to me for free?
If I think of any more questions or issues, I'll post them here for your advice as well - I haven't really had it all together lately, so there are probably things I've neglected to detail here, in addition to spelling and grammatical errors - for all that, I apologize. Thank you very much in advance for any help you could possibly offer me.