If you have never been in trouble before a good lawyer can show you the best course of action and hopefully keep your record clean. If it is not your first offence it will beige difficult. As a rule, judges do not like these theft cases. Get an attorney now to get ahead in the process. Early intervention is key. Consider therapy or counselling to improve your outcome.
This response is based on information provided. Many variables may exist that can only be addressed in an interview. This answer in no way creates an attorney-client relationship.
Retail theft can be charged as a crime, or in some jurisdictions as a municipal violation. You can tell the difference by looking at who is the Plaintiff. If the Plaintiff is the State, then you are charged with a crime. If the Plaintiff is some municipality, such as a town or village, then you are charged with a violation of a municipal ordinance, which carries no criminal charge and results in only a fine with or without community service. if you must get private counsel it will be well worth it in financial savings as well as in protecting your future in other ways.
There is a law in most states which allows for civil action collection when there is a retail theft. Most people choose to ignore the demand. This demand is for money over and above any fine you pay in compliance with a court order. People may get a few more letters, each time asking for more, and then they stop. While the retailer can sue you, it is extremely rare for anyone to actually be sued. You do not owe any money unless you are sued and the retailer wins. This is a common ploy. Do not pay. If you do, you will be in the national retailers database which could affect your ability to get a job and could impact your life in other ways. If you are uncomfortable, hire a lawyer and have the lawyer write a letter. That should be the end of it.
Here is a good article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120347031996578719.html
The National Retail Theft Database is actually a voluntary list put together by different individual retailers. Further, any member that published the information on the list, can thereafter, remove it. Therefore, if you wish to have the entry removed, as you apparently do, your best bet would be to write a letter to the manager of the particular store and inquire as to what it would take for them to remove the entry.
The likely charge might carry up to 18 months in jail. An attorney can help you evaluate the state's evidence, defenses, and any plea offer, in order for you to decide whether to go to trial. If you are found guilty, then an attorney can assist you with presenting mitigation, allocution, and a recomendation for a more lenient sentence. You should seek a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford to hire one, then apply to the Office oft he Public Defender for an appointed one.
Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.
1. Do not post any more information online about your case, since this information may be used against you.
2. I am not privy to Walmart's official corporate policy, but I can tell you that I recently had to defend an M.D./Ph.D. with no priors of any kind who was accused of shoplifting on the flimsiest circumstantial evidence. We won the case, because the loss mitigation officer was so used to getting pleas that he really did not have his ducks in a row. However, my client was put through hell because, it appears to me, Walmart wants to make an example of anyone and everyone.
3. You should assume that you will be charged and obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. If you cannot afford legal counsel, apply for a public defender immediately when you are charged, which I am pretty sure you will be within the next few weeks.
THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT ESTABLISH AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU WISH TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY, PLEASE CONTACT MY OFFICE OR THAT OF ANOTHER ATTORNEY FAMILIAR WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER OF YOUR INQUIRY.