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Seattle, WA |

I got caught shoplifting at the university bookstore today. I know it was a stupid thing to do but i was desperate. I needed that book so i can do my homework, which was due the next day. My dad usually pays for my books but he said he will pay next week but that is too long of a wait. I needed that book today so i shoplifted because i was desperate.

Anyways, the security said this will go on my record and i would have to pay a fine and most likely go to court but they weren't very clear. The stuff i stole was worth 64 dollars. I am 19 years old and I have clean record. And the security said there is a possibility this will get off my record. They also made me write a police statement. What is a police statement and will the university bookstore press charges against me? What is the best thing to do? Is it necessary to hire a lawyer? Please help me.

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Attorney answers 4


Get the best lawyer you can find and push hard to keep this off your record. A conviction or any criminal record for theft will follow you around forever and hurt your chances for future employment.


Get a lawyer. Your agew and prior clean record work to your benefit. You may be entitled t5oyouthful offender treatment and expungement from your record. What you do now has a huge impact on your future life. Rather than help you, you need to help yourself. Good luck!


It is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that he or she can protect your rights. Under Washington law the theft of an item worth less than $250.00 is considered theft in the third degree, a gross misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. An attorney will be able to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the government's evidence. He or she will also be able to determine whether the police violated any of your rights. For instance, was your police statement the result of custodial interrogation and, if so, were you properly advised of your Miranda rights. Significantly, even if you feel that you are guilty of the crime, there may be options available to you to keep a Theft 3 off your criminal record. These include tools such as the Compromise of Misdemeanor statute and, in some jurisdictions, a deferred sentence or stipulated order of continuance. While such options are not always available, an attorney who practices criminal defense in the area will be in the best position to advise you as to the best action on the facts of your individual case. Good luck.


WA allows a store to bring a civil lawsuit against "shoplifters". ("Shoplifters" isn't the word used in the statute.)

See RCW 4.24.230, Liability for conversion of goods ..., for more details. The statute can be accessed at .

The bookstore or the collection agency it hires likely will be sending you a demand for several hundred dollars to settle its possible claim against you. Before paying, you likely should consider whether to pay. You may or may not have defenses against the store.

You will soon find out that being caught shoplifting is no fun. You will be going to court several times to resolve the criminal charge against you.

The university's library sometimes has the course books available (either on reserve or in general circulation). For the future, you may want to find out what books are available at your university's library.