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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    Question How Should I Plea, Considering My Circumstances

    My question involves criminal law in the state of New Jersey.

    Last week, I was charged with committing the offense of shoplifting--in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:2-11B(1)--from a Walmart location (note: this is my first criminal offense). As such, I was issued a summons to appear in court tomorrow morning. After extensively reading similar threads that have been posted, I noticed that the vast majority were advised to enter a not-guilty plea and seek counsel at their arraignment.

    Although this is probably the best path to take, I don't know what would be the best choice in my case. To put this simply, I do not have ANY means to afford a public defense, let alone a personal attorney. I am unemployed, and thus have absolutely no income; I also do not have any assests under my name. Nor do I have any friends/family that would financially support me in this case. Just to note, I am unemployed due to a physical disability. As it stands now, I have no clue how I'll manage to pay the court fee(s) and civil demand letter.

    So, given my circumstances, would I just be better off entering a plea of guilty and bearing the weight of a criminal record? Or is there something I am unaware of that would make it practical for me to plead not-guilty, despite having no means to pay for a defense?

    I apologize for appearing so desperate, and sincerely appreciate any advice that is offered.

  2. #2

    Lightbulb Re: How Should I Plea, Considering My Circumstances

    It sounds like you may be eligible for a diversion, since this is your first offense. This will save you any criminal record, but there may be fees involved, so find out.

    Check what the requirements are and how to apply by calling the court or looking on your county website. Going this route may require minimal legal counsel. Good luck and hope your finances improve soon.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How Should I Plea, Considering My Circumstances

    You'll probably receive a deferred sentence of six months.

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