I am a 4.0 student, and haven't done anything of this sort before. I am scared this will stay on my record and I want to do anything I can to keep it off. I have the common sense to realize now I should have just turned the clothes in when the tags came off but I completely panicked and logic blanked out. I took 55.76 worth of merchandise and for sure do not want to do it again. Unfortunatly I can not afford any type of attorney and plan to plead guilty. If there is any tips or things I can ask for that will help get this off of my record I would greatly appreciate it.
Depending on a variety of factors is may be possible to keep this offense off of your public record (dismissal, deferred prosecution, theft school, supervision). In addition, the arrest can later be expunged as long as you avoid conviction, but the waiting period will depend on your sentence. To achieve the best result possible speak with an attorney. Many of us offer free consultations, more information on retail theft in Illinois is available at the link below.
You want to keep this off your record? Better not not just walk in and plead guilty. Under Illinois law, a conviction (which is the probable result of pleading guilty) will leave you with a criminal record that can never be expunged and that cannot even be sealed until years have passed. An attorney may be able to resolve this case without a conviction. I urge you to consult attorneys to find out what it would cost to retain private counsel. It may be less than you think. If you find that you cannot afford private counsel, ask the judge to appoint the public defender.
Do not just plead guilty. If you can't afford a lawyer, see if you can get one appointed. Otherwise, it may be time to talk to family about coming up with money for a lawyer. This is a "minor" charge that can have lifelong consequences. There may be diversion or first offender programs available, that you will miss out on by simply pleading guilty. You want a lawyer from there in Chicago, not me.