Can i go to jail for retail petty theft?

Asked over 4 years ago - Ocala, FL

I live in Ocala, Fl. Im 20 years old. I got caught stealing, the total amount was under 200 dollars. It was not my intension to steal that day. It just was a bad decision I made in the moment. It was a stupid thing to do and I will never break the law again as long as I live. I was charged with retail petty theft in the first offense. This is my fisrt time getting into trouble with the law. I am suppose to apear in court next Monday. I want to know what can I expect and what is the worst that they can sentence me to. Please help. I am scared and worried.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Robert Edward Heyman

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . you need to go to court on Monday and request that the prosecutor consider you for their Pretrial Diversion program. It is a program for 1st time offenders. You will be directed to enter a not guilty plea and go through a screening process. You appear to be the perfect candidate. If you are accepted and successfully complete the terms, the charge will be dismissed by the court and you can later have the case sealed by the court.. I'm sure this will be a lesson learned which will last a lifetime. Good Luck.

  2. Stephen Andrew Mosca

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . It is possible to go to jail for retail petty theft because the maximum penalty is 1 year in the county jail, but it is extremely unlikely that you will be sentenced to any jail time at all.

    As it is your first offense and the property was recovered, you should be offered a chance to attend a diversion program, if your county offers them. Diversion means that you will be required to perform some community service, perhaps write a letter on the consequences of crime, perhaps a letter of apology, and maybe take a class on stealing or crime, and then have the charges dropped.

    The other possible outcome is that the prosecutor offers to settle the case in exchange for your pleading no contest. You will do no time in jail (you will be given sentenced to any time you have already done and then given credit for that time leaving zero left to do) and the judge should withhold adjudication, meaning declines to convict you.

    Of the two choices, diversion is the better long term outcome for you, so take it if offered, ask for it if not offered, and complete it if accepted.

    Petty theft is a crime of dishonesty and reflects poorly on you when it is a part of your history. It can mess up jobs and housing, and if you pick up two more they can elevate that to a felony. Diversion will avoid the record except for the arrest. In the future, if you stay out of trouble, you can move to have your record expunged. If you take the plea and the withhold, you can only move to seal your record in the future. So push for the diversion and complete the program. Good luck.

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