Before you enter any type of plea in court to resolve your case, you should get the advice of a criminal attorney--either a public defender assigned to you by the court if you are eligible or a private attorney with whom you consult and retain. A misdemeanor charge like petit theft may be resolved in many ways, in which the end result is either a dismissal, a withhold of adjudication, or a conviction.
If you go to court and resolve the case with a fine, you are most likely going to receive probation. The petit theft charge/arrest will be on your arrest record, even if you enroll in the State's Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program and get the charge dismissed. You are going to want to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid a conviction and possibly get your arrest record "sealed" once your case is complete. That is the only way that your arrest will not show up on your record.
Please check out my website where I have information on theft related charges as well as sealing and expunging your arrest record. Our office handles these types of cases throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Aaron J. Slavin, Esq.
SLAVIN LAW FIRM, LLC
Nope! Like the two attorneys above said, this is going to be on your record for a while, at least as an arrest. You may get diversion and avoid a conviction, but that will take 3-6 months before it's done. Getting in a hurry is not in your best interest. Consult an attorney in your area who can advise you what happens most of the time in your jurisdiction. Don't worry. It's not the end of the world. Maybe you can get it expunged after the diversion. Just make sure you use better judgment in the future, if you want to avoid crimes being on your record.
If you are just looking for the quickest way to resolve the case, then yes, a good defense attorney would resolve your case with a withhold and fine.
This is because Florida law was recently changed to allow a person to resolve misdemeanor offenses with a find and still have adjudication withheld. Previously the court would have had to adjudicate you guilty if you were just fined, but did not receive probation. Once you pay the fine, you would immediately be eligible to have your record sealed (but not expunged).
If you want to completely remove the offense from your record, you would have to enter and complete a six month Pre-Trial Diversion program. You would then be eligible to have your record expunged.
I have provided several links on my website which explain teh different methods.