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What's the best course of action to avoid permanent larceny charges?

Lake Worth, FL |

I'm 18 y/o living on my own. Out of near desperation, I was caught shoplifting items like toothpaste and food items from Walmart in Florida. The cost of the items was less that $70. The police were called and I was arrested. They had me sign a trespassing notice (basically saying if I returned before two years they would have me arrested) and I paid the civil fine of $250. My court date is tomorrow and the charges are 812.014(13A). Currently I'm unemployed and cannot afford an attorney.
What can I do to avoid a permanent charge? What will the process be like?

I have a juvenal battery charge as well.

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

You got good solid answers. I don't practice in lake Worth but if I were a betting man I'd wager that you will be eligible for diversion. You should note that diversion is almost always a once in a lifetime gig (occasionally someone will get 2 bites at that apple but not often) and that most diversionary programs have costs associated with them. That said, go to your Arraignment and, as a college advised, locate and ask the Public Defender about diversion. If its available, and if you can comply, then register, as successful completion will result in a dismissal. If its not available then the Court will determine whether or not you qualify for appointed counsel and you can take it from there. With de respect t my colleague who suggested that you attempt to mitigate your transgression based upon the objects of your theft, I respectfully disagree and urge you not to go there. (What you allegedly stole, and why you allegedly stole it, are 99.99999% not going to be considered by either the State or the Court as either relevant or mitigating factors).

Posted

By any chance does the police report list the items you were caught with? If so, I would use the fact that you were taking various necessities, and not electronics or games etc, as mitigation of the offense. Since you already paid the civil penalty, your court appointed lawyer should be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid a conviction. The problem is that while one prosecutor might dismiss the case for these reasons, others may be far more difficult to deal with. Your juvenile case may prohibit you from electing any sort of Pre-Trial Diversion Program, but if not, you might offer to complete diversion and do some community service. The result would be a dismissal of the charges. Then, depending on the disposition of your juvenile case, you may be able to expunge your record. You'll need to consult a local criminal defense attorney to determine if you're eligible. Good luck with you case.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much, the report does not list the items. I intend to plead not guilty and take the 5th whenever possible (:

Justin W. Blow

Justin W. Blow

Posted

Speak to the public defender before arraignment if possible. Walmart may have preserved the video, or have a written report which lists the items in question. Around here, Walmart rings them up and provides a receipt to law enforcement to establish the value of the items. Maybe they did that in your case. Your attorney will be able to find that out for you. In any event, you should consult an attorney before you proceed. If you haven't been appointed one by the arraignment date, request one when your case is called. If a clean record is critical, the only proper course for you is to consult with an attorney and let him/her handle the discussions with the State.

Posted

State Attorney's Offices in different jurisdictions will sometimes offer some type of Diversion program for first time offenders. I would inquire about that since it may result in a dismissal of the charges upon successful completion. If you can't afford an attorney, you can get one appointed by the court. I would definitely advise that you go over your options with a public defender before entering into any plea agreement with the court or the State Attorney.

Posted

There are several different ways this case may go. Here (in Palm Beach County) the State may consider offering you a diversion to formal prosecution. When you go to court there should be a public defender there to assist you if you cannot afford to hire an attorney. Good luck!

Posted

You will qualify for the Public Defender, which is a free attorney who will represent you. Ask for the PD and do not make any decisions until you consult with the attorney.

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