Before you abandon the idea of a lawyer you may rethink it.
If this is your first offense you may qualify to have it dismissed through a diversion program.
Even if you think you cannot afford an attorney, you may ask court to see if you qualify for court appointed counsel. You will have to fill out a financial questionnaire and have judge review.
This is a class 1 misdemeanor and has a maximum punishment of up to 1 year in jail and up to $2500 fine. Some jurisdictions in VA have a one day in jail policy for even first time offenders while some jurisdictions will allow a first time offender the opportunity to have the offense dismissed with community service, a shop-lifting class, restitution, and general good behavior for a specified period of time. It really depends on the customs of the court, the amount of cooperation you displayed and who the prosecutor/judge is to say what will most likely happen to you.
But, you are at risk of a criminal conviction for a theft crime. This is the time to consider what is at stake. Many attorneys will be willing to put you on a payment plan and work with your budget. Have you called a few in your area to discuss fees? You might be surprised by the quality of representation you can receive within your budget. Please make some calls before deciding to tackle the VA court system by yourself.
[Note: Consistent with Avvo policy, this communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]