My question involves criminal law for the state of: Georgia
I am an 18 year old Freshman at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. About 3 weeks ago I was shopping with a friend who decided she wanted steal a few items from Wal-Mart. I was totally against the idea of stealing any items myself but I was totally aware that she was stealing and wasn't scared that she would get caught. We all (me, the thief, and one other girl) shopped around the store as the young lady gradually put things into her bag. I refused to exit the store with her, afraid that the store alarm may go off. She left the store, and I checked out with the 3rd party and exited a few minutes later.
As I walked out of the store I was approached by 3 Wal-Mart LP Officers. I was asked to follow them and I already knew what it was about. The other girl that was leaving the store with me WASNT asked to re-enter the store, and I'm confused as to why. I was escorted to the LP offices where I was informed that I was an "accessory" to a shoplifting crime. They searched my purse (which unfortunantly was HUGE, but had no stolen property inside) and told me that I was "just as guilty as the person stealing" and that we were going to be arrested.
They took down my information and I signed papers agreeing not to come back to another Wal-Mart or Sam's store. They then proceeded to right me a ticket stating that I had to appear in court in June. I was so nervous at that point that I didn't think to ask many questions such as what I was being charged with, or what evidence they had against me that made me a criminal!
They also filled out papers stating that a civil law suit could be brought against me if I didn't respond with payment to a letter from Wal-Mart that is supposed to be being sent to me. (I haven't received it yet)
All I know is that they "claim" to have video of me walking around the store while my friend was stealing, but they wouldn't let me see such video. I'm afraid that I am being accused of something more than what I am really guilty of, which is knowing that my friend was stealing without reporting it.
We were both handcuffed and arrested minutes later and later released on $60 bond. I believe my friend's bond was set higher.
My questions are:
-How can I find out EXACTLY what I am being accused of BEFORE my court date?
-Whats the worst punishment that an "accessory to shoplifting" can receive?
-Is it the same punishment as the person who actually stole? Worse?
-Should I plead guilty to all charges to avoid many trials to prove my innocence? (I was advised to do this)
-Is it true that I could be put on probation and forced to pay the amount of my total bond, which was $665?
-Will I have to pay the civil fine for shoplifting if I didn't actually steal anything?