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Please, what is my best course of action on this matter? Also, what plea should I make so I can have my record cleared?

San Jose, CA |

I was charged by Macy's loss prevention for shoplifting a $30 shirt. They did not want to call the police and simply wanted to get my drivers license to bill me a $425 fine. But I panicked and my heart was racing and I concealed the license from them and told them I'm from out of country. They then called the police, an officer came, read me my rights, got my thumbprint, gave me a citation with a court appearance date and let me go. I have never had a criminal history and I'm completely stressed out and unable to sleep knowing that now I will have a permanent criminal record. I'm contemplating dark thoughts. What is my best course of action during the first court appearance? Should I contact loss prevention and try and have them sympathize with me and try and get charges dropped?

Thank you for the responses. Is there a way to have the arrest record sealed and destroyed as I had initially came willingly with the loss prevention individual and security guard? I have not appeared in court yet as this incident happened recently. I'm so very distraught...

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Attorney answers 7


Hi, unfortunatly since the police have now become involved it will probably go to the DA's office for prosecution. There are several things we can do to try to keep it off your record.


If this is your 1st case ever, there is a good chance you will be offered a diversionary program, which would enable you to keep a clean record. It is in your best interest to go to your local public defender's office or if you have the funds to seek private legal counsel.


Hire an attorney who is familiar with and experienced in the court your arraignment is at. Do not contact loss prevention to engender sympathy to try to have charges dropped. It is no longer in their hands to do so. The police report will go to the DA's office, who will decide what to do.

I think you should do an online shoplifting prevention course, get the completion certificate and perhaps show it to the DA to get the charges lowered to an infraction for violation of Penal Code section 490.1. After all, the shirt is less than $50 and it seems to be a life necessity in clothing. There are online shoplifting prevention courses at Tom Wilson Counseling and the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention. The programs generally cost about $70 and take three hours, but this can help you get charges lowered to an infraction (which avoids probation) and perhaps even diversion.

Hire an attorney to see if paying the loss prevention demand under Penal Code section 1377 and 1378 can help you have the charges dismissed in a Motion for Civil Compromise. I have done this many times. Judges will grant such motions to dismiss. So contrary to what many attorneys recommend, I do not think you should throw the civil demand in the trash, unless you like having a conviction.

Hire an attorney.



Thank you for the response, Greg. What course of action do you think the DA will take in this type of matter? Considering it is less than $50. Will the DA typically dismiss or drop the charges if I complete the course and pay the civil assessment before the first court date and show them this?


Hire an attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can work to get the matter dismissed. Best of luck.

For a Free Consultation Call: 408.516.4645


Get an attorney. Do not pay Macy's any money. Do not contact loss prevention. This can be dealt with .



First things first. If you are contemplating "dark" thoughts, that is not good. I understand what you are saying. Get yourself to some shoplifters anonymous classes-they are free. It's completely anonymous and you can get support. This will also help your case. The amount was low enough to get you an infraction. Hire a lawyer in your area that knows his stuff. It's well worth it, especially given your mental state. LAW OFFICES OF VICTORIA CLEMANS (310) 803-9111. The license issue can be explained, besides they booked and released you.

This is a general statement regarding law and facts and should not be construed as an attorney-client relationship or a solicitation for same.


Where to begin? Well, your "dark thoughts" comment can be dealt with by seeking a support group, as suggested by one of the responses, or talking to your therapist if you have one. Many times these comments may be due to the unknown. It may be that simply 'not knowing' is the root of your dark thoughts. If so, then the best thing to do is speak with an attorney who handles this type of case. They can shed light on this subject matter; explain to you the maximum liabilities for a petty theft; the possible alternative lesser charges as one response suggested, such as an infraction; other possibilities might include a civil compromise though it has been my experience that the larger department stores often have policies that would prohibit a civil compromise once a criminal complaint has been filed; there may also be a diversion program that you could take advantage of. All of these possible end results and others can be explained by your attorney. Once you have a better idea of the possibilities for resolving this minor matter, and you actually put a plan in place to approach your situation, it will possibly give you a feeling of empowerment. I have a saying, "knowledge casts out darkness." Good luck.

The answer to the proposed question does not establish an attorney client relationship between the proponent of the question and this attorney. Further, it is important and suggested by this author that the proponent of the question seek legal representation and discuss the specifics with the legal representative in order to obtain a specific and detailed response, rather than the general response that is provided here.