Going to the court for shoplifting without an attorney.

Asked about 1 year ago - Chicago, IL

About a week ago I was caught shoplifting at Kohl's. When they took me back they said they just wanted the stuff back and they would let me go. They made me fill out a paper with my information. They went through everything and told me I would get a letter with a bill for what I had stole, also they called the police. i m going to court next month. the price of stolen items was 16$. in the police department i was told, that its not going to stay in my permanent records. but i m affraid it may affect when i ll be applying for a citizenship. now i am a permanent resident. it was 1st time offender case. should I hire an attorney, which i dont think i could afford, or should i jst go to the court by myslef? and what may be the fine in this case?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Daniel G. Galivan

    Contributor Level 17

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . Retail Theft is a Class A misdemenaor, that carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail. As a first offender in Cook County, however, you should not be concerned about a jail sentence being imposed. Having said that. because it is a jailable offense, the judge will require you to hire an attorney unless you qualify for the services of the public defender. Assuming the evidence against you is sufficient for the state to prove its case (which it may very well not be), an experienced criminal defense attorney can still achieve either a dismissal or other disposition that will allow you to remove this mistake from your permanent record (this is crucial for your future employment prospects and immigration status).
    You should also know that the store's lawyers will make a civil demand against you, well in excess of the value of the merchandise. Accordingly, you should hire an attorney who knows how to handle this demand as well as the criminal charge. Do not simply pay the demnd; it will hinder your ability to find a job for the next seven years. Most of us will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your options and fee arrangements. www.galivanlaw.net

  2. Melissa I. Smejkal

    Contributor Level 18

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You definitely need an attorney. There are ways to keep it from going on your record.

  3. David Scott Olshansky

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with most of the posts here WITH ONE EXCEPTION... I know the goal is to remove this from the public record HOWEVER, once it is expunged, and I am assuming that any attorney worth his weight in spit can get you a disposition that is expungeable, you will have difficulty with your immigration status and becoming a citizen because they will require the records for you citizenship and they will not be available.... SO... you will need to hire a criminal attorney that is knowledgeable of THREE things 1. Criminal Law, 2. Immigration Law, 3. Expungement Law... Generally, it can be removed if done right and the lawyer maintains enough of the certified copies and gets the original police records for you future use in immigration... be wary of a lawyer that just says to expunge it without questioning your immigration status.
    Good luck.

  4. Michael R Crosner

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Do not go to court by yourself. It sounds like you would qualify for the public defender - if you can not afford a private criminal attorney use the public defender. Check around, the fee a private attorney will charge might not be as much as you think.

    This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney .... more
  5. William A. Jones Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . I agree with the first responder here. Seek legal representation whether privately retained or the Public Defender's Office. You've got a lot at stake here, and you only get one try at it. Good luck.

  6. Calvin T. Sun

    Contributor Level 15

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Best to get legal representation.

  7. Joa Rajon Sherman

    Contributor Level 4

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with all of the other comments, you definitely want to retain legal counsel, whether it is the public defenders office or private counsel.

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