This being your 1st offense will help in mitigating your charge, my suggestion is you retain a lawyer to help you resolve this matter.
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You have been charged with the disorderly persons offense of shoplifting (DP under $200). You have an arrest record on the CCH that likely will appear on a background check. You face a fine and community service and a conviction entry that cannot be expunged for 5 years. The ability to negotiate this offense is limited since the AG has directed that shoplifting (2C:20-11) should not be reduced to a town ordinance (which has only 2 year wait to file for expungement). However a new law allowing PTI diversion and a dismissal is waiting to start. Unfortunately, this law does not apply to offense committed prior to the effective date. But many prosecutors recognizing this change of legislative attitude are cutting deals. So an experienced criminal defense attorney can assess the case to see if the State can prove its case, try to get the case dismissed on a discovery technicality, negotiate a lateral plea (one with less stigma) or possibly get a lower charge. An attorney makes sense.
You're facing up to 6 months in jail, up to 1,000 fine and up to 10 days community service if you're convicted as well as paying court costs and surcharges. Being a first time offender shouldn't be the reason to contemplate whether you need legal representation. You do need legal representation even as a first time offender. Either retain the services of a private attorney or apply for the services of the public defender if you're economically eligible. Schedule a consultation in person with an attorney prior to your scheduled court date so the attorney can evaluate your case and advise you how to proceed based on your situation. Good luck in Court. Above all, plead NOT GUILTY until you have legal representation.
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