I was caught shoplifting a few days ago. It was around $25 worth of stuff. The cops were called but I did not have any contact with them. I'm wondering if I should wait until I receive a court summons to contact a lawyer or if I should start now? Is it guaranteed that I will be charged, or not? I'm wondering what option will be smartest/save me the most money in the end?
The matter is serious enough to set up a consultation with a local criminal defense attorney. You can find attorneys using the find a lawyer tab above, and you might want to see more than one. You want to save money, but this can surely affect you for the rest of your life without counsel.
R. Jason de Groot, Esq. We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I make do not constitute legal advice. Any statements made by me are based upon the limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in Florida.
It's not guaranteed you will be charged, but you will most likely be charged. Hiring a lawyer now may allow the lawyer to get ahead of the problem and resolve the case with the prosecutor before it's ever filed.
Best option would be to consult with an attorney now who may be willing to negotiate before charges are filed. Use the "find a lawyer" tab above
There are pros and cons to (1) waiting until you receive a summons and (2) hiring an attorney now.
(1) There is no way to know if charges will actually be filed. It seems that people in your situation are charged more often than not, but I have no statistics to back that up. If you wait you will potentially save money by not needing to hire an attorney. On the other hand, you may miss an opportunity to settle prior to charges being filed.
(2) If you hire an attorney you may be able to negotiate with the store or the prosecutor to resolve the case before charges are filed. Some stores will do this, others will not. A few prosecutors offices will listen to proposals, many will not. You may be spending money to try to do something that your attorney won't be able to do. On the other hand, you may be saving a lot of trouble in the future.
I think all things considered it is better to have an attorney as early as possible. However, you need to make the choice based on your own situation.
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