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Got caught shoplifting in need of legal advice.

Chesterfield, VA |

I recently got caught shoplifting an item of $25 at target. I have never done this before nor do I have any record what so ever (not even a speeding ticket). The item was recovered at the store and the police were already waiting in the security area. Seeing that I had no priors, I was issued a summons and given 2 court dates. Being that I am a student, I can't afford a lawyer. I would do anything so this won't be on my record. What are the best options to proceed with to somehow stop this from being on my record? And should I plea guilty or not guilty at the first date?

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Attorney answers 3


Doesn't matter if you did had a clean record--you don't have a clean record now, and if you don't get proper representation, you won't end up with a clean record (FYI, there is no expungment for convictions in Virginia--this little shoplifting incident has potential to stay with you for the long haul).

You need to think long term--you need to do whatever you can to hire an attorney--borrow from parents, friends, other relatives.

The ONLY reasonable chance you have at coming out with a clean record is to hire an attorney. You have already admitted in writing in a public forum that you committed the crime (avvo is a public, open forum and the Commonwealths Attorney's could ID you from your post if they were savvy enough to see your post and contact avvo). That's two strikes. Do yourself a favor and consult with a criminal defense attorney IMMEDIATELY.

Best of luck you.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. His answers to any Avvo question are rooted in general legal principles--NOT your specific state laws. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III


Attorney Spissler is entirely correct--I neglected to point you in the direction of a public defender. Definitely an option for you to consider.


If you cannot afford an attorney, you should ask for an attorney to be appointed to represent you. Many Virginia jurisdictions have a first offender program for people accused of shoplifting so you can explore that option if it exists in your jurisdiction. None of really can or should give you step by step instructions on how to handle your case from, essentially, an email.

This answer does not create an attorney client relationship and should be considered for informational purposes only.



Should I ask for a public defender prior to my first court date or do I wait until I get there?

Kelly Katherine Sprissler

Kelly Katherine Sprissler


Go to the clerk's office of the court where you are charged and tell them that you want to apply to be represented by a public defender. The clerk's office can tell you what you need to do. You may try calling the clerk's office first in case there are scheduled hours for the application process before one's court date.


You are charged with a crime that carries a possible jail sentence. Therefore, you have a right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the judge will appoint one to represent you. You should speak with your attorney about how you should plead, and if there are any defenses available to you.

Good luck.

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James Garrett
Garrett Law Group, PLC
(757) 422-4646 - 24 hour Service

Responding to questions on AVVO does not establish an attorney-client relationship between the questioner and any attorney associated with Garrett Law Group, PLC. Responses should be considered and used for informational purposes only. Every case is unique in its facts, and all legal matters should be discussed with a licensed attorney prior to making any decisions or taking any actions.

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