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What should you plead for a first time offense of shoplifting?

Sherman, TX |

In December, 2011, my then 17 year old son was arrested for shoplifiting at Wal-Mart. Since the merchandise was under $100, they charged him with a class b misdemeanour and we were allowed to bail him out. He has no prior record and hasn't had any other issues since. What should he plead at the pretrial hearing? He can't afford an attorney and all calls to the county clerk's office for a court appointed attorney have gone unanswered. Please advise.

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Attorney Answers 4


The court may not allow him to represent himself, depending on the county. They will not expect him to enter a plea at his first setting. He may able to apply for a court appointed attorney at that time.

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It's Grayson County


He should request a public defender at the first listing. Having this on his record will affect his future. Tehrefore it needs to be addressed properly.

This is not intended as individual legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship established by this answer. It is advisable that you seek individualized legal assistance. This is not a substitute for hiring an attorney.

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I agree with Ms. Jaggers.

You may also want to consider that a theft charge is a serious matter, no matte how small the value of what was stolen. There are often diversion programs for first offenders, but many prosecutors require an attorney's involvement before permitting a defendant to enter such a program.

Misdemeanor representation is often fairly reasonably priced. Costs around the same as 4 tires, a complete tune-up, and a front end alignment...or a week-end get away. Around $1,000 to $2,000 would be typical. Each lawyer sets his or her own price.

And, remember that theft is one of those crimes that is considered a "crime of moral turpitude", meaning a conviction brands a person pretty much for life as a dishonest person, not to be trusted. Bad mojo, as the saying goes.

Answers on Avvo are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney / client relationship is created by providing this answer. For specific advice about your situation, you should consult a competent attorney of your choosing.

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Assuming it is in Grayson County, he will be given an arraignment date soon, if not already. At that time he will speak with a prosecutor, and the prosecutor will give him a plea deal. After that he can take it or not take it. If he doens't like what he is offered then he can ask the court for a court appointed lawyer. With no prior criminal history, he should be looking at deferred adjudication. That is a form of probation where if he does everything right, the conviction will not stay on his record.

I would recommend him ask for an attorney no matter if he likes the offer. This way someone who is familiar with these proceedings can make sure your son either gets the best deal possible or is protected from any wrong doing by the police.

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