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How to dismiss a first "shoplifting" case to avoid having it on my record? (I have no prior criminal record.)

San Diego, CA |

In order to save time waiting in line, I unintentionally pass the alarm gate with less than $40 worth of merchandise to check some discounted items being displayed outside the entrance. I thought it's okay to come back to the counter to pay after I decided on those on sale merchandise since I am still inside the store. However, the security staff stopped me right after I stepped out of the gate and took me back to their office. They called the police for shoplifting. The officer came to write me a misdemeanor citation about an hour later and asked me to show up in the court set up in April. Any comments regarding how to dismiss this case is largely appreciated! If cannot, please let me know the best solution to solve the issue so that it wouldn't affect my immigration status and my job.

Attorney Answers 8

  1. I know it was only 40 dollars worth of merchandise and it was a mistake. However this is a misdemeanor charge with possible immigration consequeces.I am a Maryland criminal defense attorney who does a great deal of work for spanish, korean , chinese and vietnamese speaking clients. As such i have a great deal of experience helping people with possible immigration issues after a conviction. Further, since im in Maryland my advice is nonbiased, i dont want your case. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with cases that may have possible immigration consequences.Money spent here now will save you a ton in the future.

    Jonathan N. Portner, Esquire, Portner & Shure, P.A. Maryland and Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys. This response is general information and not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This response should not be relied upon. Please note that no attorney-client relationship exists between the sender and the recipient of this message in the absence of either (1) a signed fee contract and (2) remission of an agreed-upon retainer. Absent such an agreement and retainer, I am not engaged by you as an attorney, nor is any other member of my law firm

  2. Retain an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to assist you who also understands the immigration consequences involved since certain dispositions will result in you not having a criminal recors yet still effect your immigration status. There are many excellent attorneys here on AVVO and most offer free consultations.

  3. A resolution of your case with something that does not involve immigration consequences is certainly possible. Many of us attorneys here in San Diego have handled these types of cases. Most of us offer a free consultation. Give us a call and one of us should be able to help you out with this problem.

    I will be happy to speak with you at no cost with a FREE phone consultation if you have a San Diego or California matter. Please call my office at 619-238-1905 or visit my website at

  4. It's not uncommon in San Diego County to settle these types of cases in a way that doesn't result in a criminal conviction, and will also avoid any immigration consequences. You should obtain a free consultation from a local criminal defense attorney to learn the particulars of what can be done to ensure the best possible result.

    Law Office of Andrew Limberg, APLC 380 S. Melrose Dr., #329 Vista, CA 92081 (760) 806-4381

  5. Hire the best locally experienced criminal defense attorney you can afford.

    Based on the facts as you have described, you might have a good case for trial if the prosecutor is unwilling to resolve the case for something that would guarantee no adverse immigration conseuqences.

    Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555

  6. I agree with the other attorneys here. Depending on which court your case is in will determine what kind of deals and negotiations you can have with the prosecutors. Each court does things a little differently when it comes to petty theft offenses. You can attempt to work out a deal with the prosecution,but if it does not benefit your immigration status then you will want to go to trial based on the facts you have stated. On this type of case (Misdemeanor), if you hire an attorney they can appear at court on your behalf and you would not need to be there or speak with the prosecution or judge. It may also be wise to consult with an immigration attorney before resolving your case to ensure it will not lead to immigration consequences.

  7. Very often in San Diego courts first time petty theft offenses involving small amounts are able to get reduced to infractions or dismissed through plea negotiations. Speak to some local experienced criminal lawyers in San Diego as many offer free consultations.

    David M. Boertje, Esq.
    (619) 229-1870

    *Please note that this is not legal advice and in no way formed an attorney-client relationship*

  8. If you have no prior criminal record, it is possible to get a civil compromise. A good attorney will know what to do.
    Good luck.

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