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Do I have a chance of going to jail for retail theft?

Philadelphia, PA |

I was caught shoplifting. Total was $180. This is my first time stealing from a retail store. I got fingerprinted and everything. Now I have a preliminary hearing next week. I'm really scared and nervous. I got a public defender. What should I expect at the court? Do I have a chance of going to jail or can they give me some community service and a fine?

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Attorney answers 4


There is always a chance you can go to jail if convicted of a crime. Depending on the county, if you have no prior record, you may be eligible for programs such as ARD where you end up with no record if you successfully complete all conditions.
You should speak with an experienced local defense attorney who will be familiar with local programs.
Ellis Klein, Esquire


Since you have an attorney all questions need to be directed to the attorney. In general, a first time offender would not go to jail and would be eligible for a program that would avoid a conviction.


Relax. As a first time offender you need NOT worry about jail; that is not among the possible penalties under the circumstances you have described. If there are no viable defenses to the charge, (make sure this is discussed with counsel), you will likely be eligible for PA's diversion program known by its initials, ARD. It is NOT a conviction, although you will be under supervision by the Probation Office in Philadelphia County. The length of probation varies but can be no longer than 2 years. One year or less is more probable. If you successfully satisfy all of the requirements imposed upon you in your ARD participation, the charge will be dismissed. You can then petition the court to expunge (wipe clean) the records pertaining to this offense. Having counsel to assist with that petition is highly recommended. If for any reason you fail in some regard to the ARD obligations, your case would return to the beginning and you would have the options of trial or negotiating a plea. A record of this arrest will be maintained for purpose of grading any future Retail Theft offense. A second offense would be graded as at least a misdemeanor 1. Good luck, yo'll be fine.


If you don't have a defense or want to fight it, as a frist timer, you could be eligible for some sort of first offender's program, where if you do some classes, your charge is withdrawn. This is how it is handled in Allegheny County. I would hire a local lawyer to ensure you get the best result.