Yesterday I was detained for attempting to shoplift a t-shirt valued at $18.95 with a friend. My friend attempted to take a shirt as well as a bottle of something, which totaled to something around $27. I just turned 18 a few weeks ago, and my friend is still 17. Both of us have clean records and no priors. My friend had his wallet with over 200 dollars inside, and I did not have my I.D. or wallet on me, and only had 6 cents in my pocket. This occured at a small, privately owned surf shop in Southern California.
We were caught when the alarms at the door went off. I was shocked and just stood there, and employees came out and escorted us back to the manager's office. They called the Sheriff before asking any questions. We both panicked, and my friend got the idea of running out of the office and trying to escape. I followed suit, except I had knee surgery 2 months ago so I obviously didn't get very far. I do not know what I was thinking at the time when I did this. I was just in complete shock and was not using rational judgement.
A sheriff arrived shortly after (with my friend in cuffs), and I was sitting in the office. He then takes the manager out for questioning, and then questions both of us separately. I overhear the Sherriff asking the Manager if they have video footage of us, and the Manager says "No" because their security cameras were not working at the time. Does this change anything? We are separtely taken to the Station where I am detained, fingerprinted, and then turned over to my friend's parents. Before leaving, the arresting officer told us he thought we were good kids who made a dumb choice and thanked us for being cooperative throughout the whole questioning process.
He wrote me a citation for Petty Theft - p.c. 488 and a court date was set for May 30.
In these last 24 hours, I have matured a whole lot. I never realized that a preconceived minor offense could have such harsh penalties. I am deathly afraid that these actions will have permanent consequences. The world looks a whole lot different from the back of a police car.
I am curious to know what my next steps should be, I called an attouney today and said that he will cover my case for $3500, and that sounded like a ridicuolously high price. My ultimate goal is to just keep this from being on my permanent record. I am willing to do whatever it takes - hundreds of hours of community service, diversion programs, etc. Also, is it possible to get this down to an infraction? And does an infraction stay on my permanent records? The attourney said that there's a good chance he would be able to get it down to a trespassing charge... what does that mean?
Also, I will be attending college (out of state) next fall. If I am sentenced probation or anything else, how will this affect this? How many hours of community service are typically issued for cases similar to mine... it in the tens or hundreds of hours? Is there a possibility that this can be settled out of court since it is a small shop and not a commercial retailing giant like Target?
IN SUMMARY: Caught shoplifting $18.95, no priors, looking for alternatives to keep this off permanent record. ANY help would be appreciated. Thank you.
TO ALL YOU YOUNG SHOPLIFTERS OUT THERE: STOP! It is not worth it! I may have destroyed my future, and I would not consider myself a very experienced shoplifter at all. Just because your friends do it, it's not OK! No matter how good they are, they will eventually get caught! I know I have screwed myself already but I hope I can persuade someone else from not giving in to the peer pressure to steal so they dont have to go down the road that I'm about to go down. Shoplifting is no joke! I was so ashamed and disgusted by myself that I literally got sick to my stomach. This has been a life-changing event for me.