I was arrested for shoplifting ($40 worth of items) from a local store and was charged with third degree theft. This is my first offense and I am a good college student. Can I, with a lawyer, get the charge taken off of my record if I do something like attend a class or is it absolutely permanent?
Also, I was given a civil demand of $300 from the store. Is that something I have to pay?
Thank you for your help!
If you are a student at the University of Oregon you can get free legal services through the ASUO Student Legal Services. Call 541-346-4273 for an appointment immediately. They have two experienced criminal defense lawyers available to assist you (yes, I am one of those lawyers).
If you were cited into Eugene Municipal Court, there is a cheap and easy diversion offered at the time of arraignment for cases such as yours, as long as it is a first charge for you.
The civil demand is different from the criminal charge. The store has the right to charge this fee to you. Similarly, you have the right to attempt to negotiate the amount of the fee assessed. You can call or write to them and offer to pay a smaller amount based on your ability to pay.
Providing this information does not establish and attorney-client relationship. If you are facing a criminal charge, you should immediately obtain counsel. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the court will appoint one to assist you.
Some jurisdictions have Deferred Prosecution Programs and Theft School Programs that may permit you, as a first time offender to complete such program and have the criminal misdemeanor charge dismissed upon the program completion. If that route is available you may proceed to expunge or seal your criminal arrest in that unfortunate incident. As a college student advancing your future career options you will benefit from a clean criminal record, no doubt.
For a more accurate analysis of your actions before the hearing please see a local criminal defense counsel in Eugene, Oregon.
P.S. With respect to the civil demand letter for damages, that is a routine attempt by the merchant attempting to recover perceived damages from the incident (loss, damage of the merchandise). The law firm that is retained by the merchant may elect filing a suit for damages in that instance, yet, there is no way of predicting whether the firm will really initiate a suit over such a minute actual loss of $40. Please discuss with the local counsel.
DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general information and a basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone a specific legal advice. Anyone using the site expressly consents that there is no attorney client privilege between any person and any attorney responding. Further take notice that the site should not be used as a crude substitute for any professional and competent legal advice by a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction. The attorney above attempted to provide competent professional information, however, the law and its applications may change frequently and vary greatly from other U.S. jurisdictions and locales. Therefore, any information and materials provided above are general in nature, and may not apply to specific factual and legal circumstances related to oneâ€™s personal legal issues. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer admitted to practice in your State under an attorney-client privilege to further receive a competent legal advice before making any important decisions about your particular legal issue. For further inquiries please contact: Attorney Alexander Ivakhnenko 1021 West Adams, 102, Chicago, Illinois 60607 773-562-8602 http://alexanderivakhnenko.com
With regard to the criminal prosecution the best advice you can get here is to discuss this with a local criminal defense attorney. S/he would be in the best position to advise and guide you toward the best possible disposition. With regard to the civil demand letter: I generally advise clients to ignore them. You don't owe them anything. In order for you to owe them anything they would have to sue you (prove damages) and win. The cost of doing so is substantially greater than any amount the can hope to recover so they usually don't pursue it. They send out then,enters hoping that you don know better and simply send them the money. Ignore it, it will have no beating on the criminal case.
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