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Charged with petty theft, please help.

Chesapeake, VA |

A week ago from today my friend and I, both 16, were charged with petty theft. Walmart's policy states they can't press charges for items under 25 dollars. The items in my bag were 10 dollars maximum. I completely understand that what we did was wrong, I will never do that again. I feel genuinely horrible for doing something so despicable, however I feel that pressing criminal charges is out of line. I don't mind taking responsibility for my actions. In reference to my research, I understand that a civil demand letter and being fined is typically the consequence for shoplifting at Walmart. I'm willing to do this, however criminal charges is a bit over the top to me ;Especially considering what I took didn't exceed 10 dollars. Please help, it's very much appreciated.

In addition, this is my very first offense. My court date is in early August, and I was hoping to negotiate with the manager of that particular Walmart alongside an attorney. I'm hoping to get the civil demand letter and pay whatever fine in exchange that they drop the charges, considering they're pressing charges for 10 dollar items when their policy instructs them to do otherwise. Furthermore, if there is nothing I can do to stop the charges, how can I get them expunged? Also, I was told that community service, probation, enrolling in a temporary disciplinary home, getting fined, and at the very most jail time would be what I'll be given in court. I'm very scared, I know what I did was wrong, but this is all very overwhelming.

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Attorney answers 3


If Walmart decides to turn this over to the police there is nothing you can do to stop the charges. You should consult with a local attorney regarding making any admissions to Walmart.

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You think Wal-mart is "out of line" and "over the top" for charging you for theft, just because it may be against their store policy being less than $25? Did I understand that correctly? You don't think it the least bit out of line for you to be stealing 10 cents worth of merchandise, let alone $10? Wow! I'm not sure how to respond to that. But if you are looking for sympathy from a judge, and you are going to try to present yourself as remorseful for committing a crime, you might want to consider a different tact. I don't think blaming Wal-mart for their store policy is going to fly in the Chesapeake courts.

Good luck.

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James Garrett
Garrett Law Group, PLC
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By no means am I saying that Walmart doesn't have every right to retaliate. I understand that what I did was wrong. However criminal charges is a very big thing, as is shoplifting. I'm not asking for pity, I'm not asking for a slap on the wrist, however I am asking for help. I don't want my entire future to be in jeopardy due to a horribly bad decision. I'm simply asking for help from the avvo community as to what my best options are so that I can have a clean record, and get my life back. We all make mistakes, mine happened to be a terribly bad one. I'm not blaming Walmart, I just want to know what I can do when August comes along. Would a diversion program be an option? I really just need some guidance here, that's all I'm asking. What should I do?

James Donald Garrett

James Donald Garrett


If you are going to be eligible for any diversionary program, you're going to need an attorney to broker the deal. Hire a criminal lawyer to help you.


I think the best thing you can do is to hire an attorney. Walmart is well within their rights to press charges.

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