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I have been charged with theft 3 in Salem, Oregon. Do I really need an attorney?

Salem, OR |

It was a stupid stupid thing to do and I've been eating myself up so I don't really need anymore of that. I stole $16 worth of groceries. I'm just wondering if I really need an attorney or how well do I stand by myself? Also I am 21 almost 22

Also no prior record aside from charges that were expunged after turning 18. I agree I deserve some degree of punishment for this but if it results in a conviction I will lose my job. So basically I want to know how I stand by myself getting diversion or something that doesn't end up on my record vs hiring an attorney. This may sound dumb but I also just noticed on the citation it's checked as violation not crime. Does that matter?

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Attorney answers 6


Theft convictions as an adult can really come back to haunt you. If you want to try it alone, give it a shot. You can always ask the prosecutor/judge for the opportunity to get an attorney if you don't like the way the case is being handled.

Good luck!

In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.


I am not an Oregon lawyer, but I can tell you that when a family member of mine got arrested, we hired an attorney. I didn't even handle it myself. The short term cost far outweighs the long term risks.


Yes, you do. You may have the right to be appointed an attorney, at taxpayer expense, if you can't afford one; so, no excuses. Representing yourself in court is like doing surgery on yourself, with no medical training. It's not illegal, but it's incredibly stupid. If you ever want to have a job that involves handling money - which, you know, a lot of them do - then a theft conviction would be a serious problem for you.

Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: | Online:



I als noticed on the citation it's checked as violation not crime. Does that matter?

Jay Bodzin

Jay Bodzin


Yes. But you need to consult with an attorney in private to go over the details. The question is a fairly complicated one, beyond the scope of a forum like this.


Yes, get an attorney. If you have to ask yourself or wonder if you should have one, it is likely that you do. You have nothing to lose by consulting/getting an attorney.

Nothing discussed should be taken as legal advice. Posting details of your case on an open forum could be used against you, so use extreme caution. The best way to get legal advice is to consult privately with an attorney.


You should at least consult with an attorney, then decide whether or not to retain one. Many people go through the initial criminal court process alone, then later on when something goes wrong (e.g. probation violation, new crime, job application) they wish they knew what they were getting in to. If you are appointed an attorney, you can at least know your rights and the consequences of entering a Diversion program, taking a plea, or going to trial.


A theft III in Oregon can carry a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,250.00. Although it is unlikely you would face a maximum term on a first conviction, you will almost always end up in a better position with qualified representation. You may even be able to avoid a criminal conviction all together. Definitely get an attorney to represent your interests.

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