I am writing this to help explain my situation to people who were once in my shoes (Freaking out because they were just arrested shoplifting and looking for answers). I was tired of seeing half of a situation. It seems like people only post when they are initially scared, and then never revisit to tell the end of their story, so I will try my best to give my entire story.
About myself, I am 22 and a full time college student. I have never been in legal trouble other than a speeding ticket in 2002 that was dropped. I, like most of you, made a stupid mistake. June 4, 2005 I was shopping in a walmart store in Hamilton Township New Jersey. I STUPIDLY decided to steal two DVDs. I say STUPIDLY because you will eventually get caught. Trust me, I was slick and still ended up in handcuffs. This is how I did it: I went to the DVD section and picked out two DVDs. I then proceeded to the arts and crafts section and picked up an Exacto Knife. I put the knife in my front Hoodie pocket and wriggled it free from the packaging. With the knife free, I could cut the plastic from the DVDs and remove the sensor with no problem. Keeping cool, I slid the DVDs under my hoodie and proceeded to the bathroom. In the bathroom, I was the only one. I ran to a stall, cut the dvds open within 15 seconds, removed the tags, put them back in my front pocket, wrapped the knife in like 3 paper towels and then pushed it deep into the trash can. I even stopped at the urinal and began to pee when I felt a strange sensation. At this point, a gentleman had walked into the bathroom and seemed to be "watching me". I felt paranoid, but there was no turning back. I had the DVDs on me, and I couldnt get rid of them out of paranoia. Either way if they saw the opened DVDs in the store somewhere, they would watch the cameras and see who had opened them. I left the bathroom and decided to "SHOP" a little. I walked around, tried on some neck ties, went about my business.. hell I'd even asked an old guy in housewares to show me ceiling fans. About twenty minutes later, I started towards the door. I passed the cashiers and said "Thanks" to the reciept checker by the door. Once I got outside, some spanish man with a heavy accent smoking a cigarette whispered "Hey kid come here". I ignored him and started past him when he said "Hey... do you know where I can get some...." (Naturally I assumed he was asking about drugs.). Turns out, he was a diversion hired by the store. I was caught off guard by his shady business and as soon as I turned away I was stopped by a short woman and a huge man. 'WALMART SECURITY'. They turned me around and shouted, SHOUTED mind you, "Dont try anything, I saw you on tape". I cooperated and went to the office.
In the office, they demanded the DVDs and I gave them back. I said I didnt want trouble and that I would pay for them times 5 if they would let me go. They were nasty and cruel, interrogating me and taunting me saying "You will remember this when your behind bars." I signed a piece of paper saying I wouldnt go into Walmart anymore, and just when I thought the end was near.. a police officer entered the office and handcuffed me. I remember his exact words: "Do you still have that knife on you? If I get stabbed, You'll be in jail for a long time". I was scared. I assured him that the knife was in the bathroom trash can and he laughed. The guy in the bathroom with me was a security guy who dug it out of the can the second I left. Bastard. After being told the DVDs totalled $28.00, I was led through the store in cuffs and taken to the police station. Once there, I was fingerprinted and given a citation to appear in court.
This is probably where you are if you are reading this.... Home and scared of court. I will continue, this is how my story panned out: I went on a message board much like this one and was advised to contact a lawyer. I called Mr. Ronald Aronds, a lawyer in Cranford NJ. He suggested I hire a lawyer and have it taken care of. His fee was $500. I payed him immeadiately and waited anxiously for my court date of July 26. In the mean time, I recieved mail from WALMART demanding I pay them $150. I sent them a money order and got them out of the way. Then I went to court. I waited a very long time, as they handled all of the traffic court cases first. They they got to me. I stepped forward with my lawyer, who said basically the following: "Your Honor, I am here representing Mr.----------------. He is a 22 year old college student with no prior record. He has expressed deep regret to myself as well as Walmart. The sum of the merchandise, while still a crime, only totalled $28.00. He assures me this will never happen again.". The judge then said "Mr. ----------, is this true?" and I said "Yes your honor." He then said "So you are pleading guilty under your own free will and accord?" and I said Yes. He then sentenced me to the following:
-A FINE of $150, and then a ton of smaller fines and court costs. All together, I payed the court $308.00.
-COMMUNITY SERVICE for 10 days. (Not sure yet what I will be doing exactly, but I will figure it out soon. )
-A MANDATORY 3 1/2 hour CLASS that I must attend in November. (4 months away).
And here I am. Posting to you. I hope this helps calm the nerves of some of you, and also warns of the dangers of shoplifting. In retrospect, I have payed $963 for $28.00 DVDs THAT I DON'T EVEN OWN NOW. I could have bought 35 copies of each of those DVDS for that price. THIRTY FIVE!!! THAT IS 70 DVDs. My collection could have been MUCH MUCH larger. Now I am left with the memory of the horror that was being arrested in front of a crowded WALMART on a saturday night. DON'T GET CAUGHT SHOPLIFTING!!!! And If you do, I suggest hiring a lawyer. The fine i COULD have recieved would have been $1,000 ALONE. Scrape up the money for a lawyer. My parents have not found out about this, and it is proof that you can do it alone. GOOD LUCK!!!