I went to family dollar store my son was with me, and I pick up some items that I need so my son witch is 3yrs old, keep putting extra stuff in my buggy and my pocket book but I take them back out. Anyway I pay for my items and has soon has I'm leaving the store, the manager stop me search my bag the beeper went off with those or the item I paid for. So I try to leave again the beeper went off again so the manager call the police and she asked to search my bag/pocket book I didn't let her search my bag I open my bag and the unpaid item was in there I am explaining to her what happened the manager didn't want to hear none of that, the press charges and this is my first offense I'm so nervous about what can happen please help me I need some good advice or do I need a lawyer for this
If this is your first offense then it is almost certain that you will be eligible for a diversionary program.
Diversion is a program which is designed to make you think twice about future criminality by way of making you jump through a series of proverbial hoops during a period of supervision, successful completion of which results in a dismissal. The program is owned and operated by the State Attorney's Office and they have absolute and unequivocal discretion as to whether to admit you, keep you or "graduate" you from their program.
Knowing that, the question now is whether or not diversion is right for you. There may or may not be viable defenses to the charges, affirmative or otherwise, or there may be factual, legal, procedural or substantive mechanisms by which to attack and beat the charges without going through diversion.
The best way for you to get competent advise is going to be to have a face-to-face meeting with a criminal defense lawyer who can follow-up on your information with questions of her/his own, as well as review the police reports and citations and then offer an informed opinion.
Please take a look at my Avvo Legal Guide on diversion in Florida. It contains a great deal of information on the subject and should be helpful to you. For your convenience a link follows:
Please see: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/pre-trial-intervention--diversion-what-is-it-and-is-it-right-for-me
As an aside, you may also receive a letter in the mail from the retailer demanding that you pay them money as a civil penalty. If this happens then you should know that in order for them to get the civil penalty they have to be able to prove (by clear and convincing evidence) that they were injured by your theft. The statute authorizing the civil demand (see F.S. 772.11 - a link appears below ) permits a retailer to seek a minimum of $200 in damages, but to do so they have to first file a civil lawsuit, which will cost them hundreds of dollars just to file, and then many more to prosecute. Their demand letter to you is essentially an offer to settle a potential civil lawsuit for $200.00, a lawsuit which has not yet, and which may never be, filed.
That said, whether or not you pay them is both a personal and a civil, and NOT a criminal defense related, question.
Please see: FS 772.11 - Civil Theft / http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/772.11
I hope that I have been helpful in answering your question.
First, second and third: No attorney-client relationship exists by virtue of any Q&A with Michael A. Haber, Esq. on Avvo. Fourth: Anything that you post on Avvo (or on similar sites) or on any social media is by its nature public. It is essentially an admission / confession and can be introduced into evidence as a statement against your interest in a subsequent legal proceeding. Once posted you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy, so, as this is an open forum (with no privilege attached), please be extra careful when considering what to post online (forewarned is forearmed.)
I agree with Mr. Haber, you should qualify for some type of pre-trial intervention or diversionary program of some sort. Good luck.
B. Elaine Jones, Esq.
Petit theft can be a nasty crime to have on your record, as many employers will balk at any sort of theft history. So, as a first offender a diversion program may be the way to go here--just complete some community service and an anti-theft class and the charges will eventually be dismissed.
However, don't stop at dismissal with diversion. You must go one step further. When shopping for an attorney, please make sure that the attorney includes expunge services as part of the legal fees. You want this case expunged. Basically, expunging the case will remove this criminal record from the government's websites (the clerk of court, FDLE, the arresting police department, etc). Also, the attorney should be willing to send the expunge order to various background check companies, making them aware that the case has been erased.
Also, it doesn't hurt to check for your mugshot on google. If it comes up, try to get these folks to remove your picture(s). Yes, this can be a bit pricey, but so many people are doing background checks via google--you don't want your picture showing up if it only costs a few dollars to remove it!
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