I put a bunch of clothes in my purse at Target and stupidly tried to walk out. They detained me but I was completely cooperative, they were very friendly and I wasn't arrested. A police officer came to the store and gave me a citation or something. I have a court date in a month. They didn't seem to think I would be getting in much trouble because I was cooperative, the value of the merchandise was $156, I am only 20, and I don't have a criminal record. But now I'm getting letters in the mail from lawyers saying I'm facing a jail sentence and I'm freaking out. What is going to happen to me?
Your narrative describes a basic usual transgression, a first time offender who is confused about the future.
1. You indicated you have a court date in one month: do not ignore it, attend as summoned, look well-groomed and respectful, be polite,
2. Do not become overwhelmed because you receive standard demand letters threatening you with significant ramifications if you do not pay damages. Instead, contact a local criminal defense attorney licensed in Tennessee. I am certain that professional will go over all facts and will advise you accordingly,
3. Based on your account, it does not appear you will be sentence to jail for the above, however, to ensure a swift, reasonable resolution of your incident with the least impact on your life; attorney's retention is highly desirable.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
Speak with a competent attorney in your area. It may be self-serving but I truly believe a defendant is better off having retained competent counsel, if you cannot afford such ask for an attorney. Do not trust that the DA will give you the best offer he can, he may but he might not, you need someone that knows what the options are and can tell you if the offer is good so that you can properly evaluate your position.
This is a public forum. Statements here can be used against you and are not protected by attorney-client privilege. The old "my friend" hypothetical is your friend. Although I doubt the ADA in Davidson County is actively lurking the Avvo site and subpoenaing records for use in a misdemeanor case still, be safe, be silent, don't make admissions until you are alone with your attorney.
Theft under $500.00 is a class A misdemeanor and can be punished by up to $2,500.00 fine and/or 11 months and 29 days incarceration. Every DA and court is different; however, 48 hours and probation for the balance (11 months 27 days) during which you pay court costs and probation fees would generally normal. It is my understanding that Davidson County has some intervention programs available (8 week class, no more trouble etc.) after which the charge is dismissed also if you have a clean record you can be given diversion (probation after which the charge can be expunged/removed and you can say it never happened - like a free pass kind of).
Legal Disclaimer. This communication is not intended to create, and does not create, an attorney-client relationship between you and James Ronald Tucker, Jr. Thus, your receipt or transmission of information to or from the James Ronald Tucker, Jr. alone does not create an attorney-client relationship or ensure confidentiality. James Ronald Tucker, Jr. assumes no liability for the use or interpretation of information contained herein. The legal information herein provided is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as professional counsel and should not be used as such. You should contact a competent attorney in your area to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.