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  1. #1

    Default Going to Court for Shoplifting - What Should I Do

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Tennessee

    I'm going to court in a week for a class b misdemeanor (shoplifting about $120), and I have NO idea what to do. I haven't been in a real court room and have been so busy with other stuff that I won't have a chance to go view a court session.

    I just want to get it over with, and I don't have the finances to pay extra money for lawyers or public defenders so I'm just going to plead guilty and hope for the best.

    Will there be someone to direct me where to sit/go, when to stand, answer my stupid questions, etc.? I'm pretty clueless.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Michigan
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    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    They will direct you where to go.

    Plead Not Guilty and ask for a Public Defender. That is your best bet.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    Thank you for the quick reply, Pandora.
    It just seems like pleading "not guilty" would make the whole situation more complicated. It would prolong court sessions, and I would have a ($300, or so) fee to pay for a public defender. Cash is so tight right now, it would probably take me a few months to pay off everything, with all of my other bills.

    And when you ask for a public defender, do you just outright ASK.
    "Not guilty, your honor. I would like a public defender."

    what do I say to the defender?

    Once again, asking for a PD just seems like it would complicate the situation.

  4. #4
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    Michigan
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    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    Guilty = harsher sentence, bigger fines, shoplifting conviction.

    Not guilty = lesser sentence, lesser fines, and P.D. may be able to downgrade the charge.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    You're right.

    If I were to plead guilty is there any chance the charge could be expunged? Someone told me that if I do, there's NO way it can get taken off of my record.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,279

    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    Expungement depends on your age. If you're a first time offender under 21, you might qualify.
    But it would be better to not have the conviction at all. You plead guilty, all that is off the table.
    Diversion would avoid a criminal record entirely. Even if you plead guilty at the arraignment, there's no guarantee the judge would sentence you then and there. They often will ask for a presentence investigation and you'd have to come back anyway. I'd at least see if I could talk to a lawyer (either private or a PD) before making the decision to plead guilty.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    15

    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    If he pleads not guilty......wont that seem a little ridiculous ....since he was probably caught on camera and has evidence against him.
    And possibly the LP made him sign the admission of guilt. How does one plead not guilty after that?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    7,667

    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    Quote Quoting Jenya81
    View Post
    If he pleads not guilty......wont that seem a little ridiculous ....since he was probably caught on camera and has evidence against him.
    And possibly the LP made him sign the admission of guilt. How does one plead not guilty after that?
    While I am a proponent of taking one's lumps when one does something wrong, a defendant does have the right to make the state prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if they know the state has a slam dunk case, they can exercise that right to have the state jump through it's hoops. DA's will also sometimes offer a deal to avoid going to trial simply to avoid wasting the taxpayers' money.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Michigan
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    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    The other advantage to a plea of Not Guilty is that usually, a plea deal is worked out between the lawyer/PD and the Prosecutor. So the perpetrator would have a chance of a lesser charge, which he/she would then plea guilty to. Or may be offered a Diversion or First Time Offenders program.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    8

    Default Re: Going to Court in a Week. What Do I Do

    I'm the situations you're in and I'm planning to plead not guilty also. Please let us know how it goes. Good Luck.

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