I was caught stealing from the store I worked at. It was in range from 500$ to 1000$. The detectives in the case said the state with my cooperation may drop it down to a misdemeanor with just restitution. I have one prior from 4 years ago. It was poss. of marijuana under 20 grams. I am wondering what kind of jail time if any I am looking at and if it is even worth it for me to hire a lawyer. I am willing to cooperate with authority's in the matter. I am currently working full time and going to college with a 6 year old daughter. I really just want to move on and put this in the past. So my question is what is the best way to go about this.
First, it is practically impossible for anyone to give you an accurate answer regarding the amount of jail time you are facing because, among other things, you are unsure as to whether you will be charged with a felony or a misdeamenor. What I can tell you is that a 3rd degree felony carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and that under Florida's Punishment Code the recommended imprisonment range for you is likely to be "any non-state prison sanction" which in your case, if handled correctly, is likely to mean a sentence of probation. If charged with a first degree misdeamenor you face up to a year in the county jail but again the more likely result, if handled correctly, is probation.
There is no question that you should retain counsel. There are a number of other issues to be resolved in your case that can have significant impact on you future such as whether or not you are adjudicated guilty -- this is what determines whether or not you will be able to truthfully say in the future that you have never been convicted of a crime.
I hope this helps. Best wishes to you and your daughter.
Based on the information that you provided, I would anticipate that an experienced criminal attorney could get you a probationary sentence without any jail time. Some typical conditions of a grand theft probation sentence could include restitution (paying the victim back) and having no contact with the victim (assuming they no longer wish to have contact with you). You may, depending on how strongly the victim feels about the crime, be eligible to apply for the State's pretrial intervention (PTI) program, whereby you could possibly get the charge dismissed at the end of the program. Sometimes the State will not accept you into such a program if you have a prior criminal record (like your prior possession of marijuana). All of these are possible scenarios, but no attorney can actually guarantee what the actual outcome will be in your case.
If you have any further questions and/or would like to discuss your case further, you can contact my law office and I would be more than happy to assist you.
You have already received two fine answers to the procedure part of your inquiry, but I will try to add some to it.
One of your questions was "is it even worth it for me to hire a lawyer?" You wouldn't attempt go through the Everglades without a guide, would you? Whenever a person is charged with a crime, they need an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer! Many of the terms used in Court seem to be understandable enough but they are "terms of art" that have their own meaning inside the justice system. Such terms as credibility, reliability, believability, etc are legal terms of art.
Attorneys who are experienced know the system. They know the Judge and how they have ruled 1000 times in the past on similar cases and issues. They know the prosecutorial philosophy on your type of case. They know whether your case is "triable" based upon a myriad of factors. With all of this factored together into the mix, a good attorney can give you excellent advice for your unique and particular case. If you simply walk into the courtroom and let the chips fall where they may, you will be like a stick an ocean during a hurricane. You might save some money...but you will take whatever the State wants to give you. You tell me, is it worth it to have a good lawyer?
For more information see my website http://www.istilldefendliberty.com