You should have an attorney at the clerk's hearing. An attorney can assist you not only by advocating on your behalf at a clerk's hearing, but also by thinking of solutions to your problem and bringing issues to your attention that you otherwise may not have thought of. For example, the lawyer can perhaps negotiate a resolution to the matter that does not require a criminal complaint to issue. Example number two, you mention that you made an admission to stealing on a prior occasion: depending on how and to whom you made this admission, this admission may not be admissible against you at a trial. You would not know the answer to this question without the advice of an attorney. The store may also be alleging that you stole other items or money on other occasions. Without a lawyer at the clerk's hearing, you could get yourself in more trouble than you were in in the first place. Good luck.
Hi, Attorney Pang's answer is correct. You don't NEED a lawyer at a Clerk's Hearing, and you aren't entitled to one - however, having a lawyer will protect your rights and your criminal record.
One benefit of having an attorney is having someone who knows the system advocates on your behalf, and can help you to get the best solution to your problem and help you protect your record.
Any time you are involved with a court, especially in a criminal matter, an attorney, a criminal defense attorney, is essential. The risks are always present. The goal is to have the matter resolved at this stage, if at all possible.
You should take advantage of the opportunity to have a lawyer at the Clerk's Hearing. It is often far less costly for the representation (it is a one appearance situation without the potential of jury preparation and presnetation) and if you are sucessful, you avoid ever having a criminal charge even filed. I advise that you should never go to court without an attorney and a Clerk's Hearing is no exception.