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Retail theft- 1st Offense- Michigan Benefit of being represented and not?

East Lansing, MI |

I was caught taking food items up to $118 and admitted to the wrong doing in the store. I'm being told that without representation and pleading guilty there is a highly possibilty of being serving a diversion program and that will expunge the offense from my record. Can you confirm if this is correct?

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Attorney answers 5


That is not true. Straight up guilty plea will result in a criminal record for theft. Don't rely on any advice from anyone who is not an attorney. If you cannot afford one, use the public defender, who you still have to repay, just less.

My answer to you question does not constitute legal advice. Only an in person or telephone consultation will result in an attorney/client relationship. Call me at (313)402-0853 to discuss your matter further.



I'm still a michigan state student they offer free legal services for students, I have no money to spare, is there a difference in the quality of care in your professional opinion between a public defender and the attorney that represents students on campus?

Timothy J. Klisz

Timothy J. Klisz


I have not a clue. I'm not from the Lansing area and don't know about their student representatives. You should certainly seek counsel from a Lansing area attorney.


No, I also disagree. It looks as if you are asking this question from Ingham County. If that is the case, then you must understand the differences between the Prosecutors Diversion Program and a Statutory based diversion program. Further, the only type of Diversion program you could possible get in Ingham County (other than the Prosecutors' Diversion Program) is under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). You must first meet the qualification of HYTA which has an age limitation. You cant assume that going in and pleaing guilty will result in any form of diversion. Having an attorney, retained or appointed, will assist you in guaranteeing that you will end up without a record and/or having the case transfered to the prosecutors diversion program. Seek an attorney.

I am licensed in the State of Michigan only. I am authorized to practice in the Federal Court for the Western District of Michigan. The information contained within any statement provided is not to be construed as legal advice. You should seek a properly licensed attorney in your state who specializes in the specific issues raised in your question or our statement.


You are getting horrible advice. The best chance you have of keeping this offense of your record is with a qualified criminal defense attorney. Self-representation is foolish and virtually always results in an unfavorable outcome. If you are not a lawyer you cannot possibly know the court rules, rules of evidence, applicable statutes, and much more. Even a lawyer charged with a crime will always hire an attorney to represent him or her.

A conviction for retail fraud, even a misdemeanor, can result in terrible consequences for your future including loss or inability to obtain employment, inability to obtain professional licensing, loss of public benefits, immigration consequences and much more.

I encourage you to use to find a 10.0 rated criminal defense lawyer. Most retained criminal defense attorneys will offer you a free telephone consultation. Feel free to consult with an attorney in any part of Michigan as it is not uncommon for criminal defense lawyers to travel throughout the state.

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It's always best to have an attorney even if you take deal like this who can step you through how it works and make sure you are getting the correct information. It's your life so I guess you make the decision, but if I was in court I would want an attorney by my side. I wouldn't trust what a prosecutor is telling me without a second opinion from someone that is knowledgeable about the details of the offer you are being made. Don't ever plead guilty flat out even to something as simple as this. Think about the other areas of your life it could end up effecting. As in the rest of life, it is not as easy as the prosecutor is making it sound.


Either hire an attorney or request a court appointed attorney; only an attorney can assist you through this process.

Jeffrey S. Kemm is licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and the State of Missouri. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship; you should exercise caution in disclosing information concerning your legal issues until you are certain you are protected by the confidentiality an attorney-client relationship creates. For additional information, please visit my website at