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Tonight I received a citation for Retail Fraud - 3rd Degree. Do I need a lawyer? Is this going to destroy my life?

Grand Rapids, MI |

I stole $90 of merchandise from Walmart. This is my 1st offense. I left the store and was home 2 hours before a cop came to my door. I was told that if I gave the items to her to return to Walmart it would work best for me, otherwise she would return with a warrant. She said that since it was my first offense I would likely receive some sort of probation/delayed sentence, and it could go under the HYTA - this doesn't seem accurate as I am 32. She gave me a ticket/citation, which included a date (a Saturday) that I need to go to the jail for fingerprinting and photos. I also have a hearing date scheduled 3 days after the fingerprinting. The citation says local court bond: $0. I cannot believe that I did this. I am completely nauseated at myself, and the repercussions.

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Attorney answers 6


Having an attorney always helps. If you can afford an experienced criminal defense attorney, then definitely retain one. If not, then take advantage of a court appointed attorney.

You are correct that HYTA doesn't pertain to you since you are over 21 years of age. However, there are other deferred sentencing options for first time offenders to keep this off your record.

Cooperate with the fingerprinting/booking process but do not speak further about the facts of your case with anyone but your attorney.

Law Office of Marc G. Beginin


There are many dispositions of the case that might leave you with no criminal record, such as a not guilty verdict at a trial, or a plea bargain to a "plea under advisement." Regrettably, you are correct that HYTA would not apply to someone as old as you, but the plea under advisement might be almost as good. If accepted, and you complete probation successfully, then the case is dismissed without a criminal record.

I strongly recommend you stop confessing on the internet. While the internet may seem anonymous to you, to experts it is fairly easy to track down who posted something. Instead, when asking questions on a site like this, you should use terms like "a friend" or "if" rather than positive statements admitting guilt.

You should hire and consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area immediately to plot out the best course of action for you. Possibly, there are motions that could be filed that could improve your legal position. You should stop shoplifting, not only because it is illegal and morally wrong, but also because apparently you are not very good at it.

Even if you are convicted of this misdemeanor, that does not necessarily ruin your life. It may limit some employment possibilities, however, I want you to know that I know people with felony convictions who have great jobs, including some who are lawyers. Good luck.

Contact me at 248-399-6930 for a free consultation. You and I do not have an attorney-client relationship formed by our communications on this website. Advice given by me on this website is general advice based on partial information. You should not rely on any advice given without first hiring a lawyer in the area where the case is pending, and providing that lawyer with full information.


I agree with these other fine attorneys. You definitely need a lawyer to help you. Having no prior record at 32 years old is a good thing. It can help in a couple of ways. As they mentioned, HYTA would not apply and I do not know why the officer would have said that other than cops should not give legal advice; especially if making an arrest. I'm guessing it was his or her way of getting you to confess. I handle Retail Fraud case in Grand Rapids and I'm guessing you are going to be at the 63rd District Court on the Beltline. DO NOT say anything else to the police or prosecutor. Let your attorney do the talking for you. Many attorneys, like myself, give free consultations so sit down with a lawyer before doing anything else. I wish you luck!

Law Office of Edward J. Sternisha, PLLC
448 Leonard St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 233-CALL-ED

The comments listed here do not create an attorney-client relationship. The comments are for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice. This attorney is only licensed in Michigan and does not give legal advice in any other state. All comments are to be considered conversational information and you should not rely on these comments as legal advice or in place of retaining an attorney of our own. The comments here are based solely on what you have provided and therefore are general in nature and with more specific facts or details a different answer or outcome could result. The legal system is not a perfect science and this attorney does not guarantee any outcome.


It's never good to trust a police officer who is investigating you on a criminal matter. They will say and do anything to get you to confess. You are not able to get hyta as you are too old for that. You should look into getting a lawyer. Find someone who you feel you can have a good working relationship with.


Yes! Of course you need a lawyer! Now that I'm done with that, I should say that you don't absolutely have to obtain an attorney to assist you as far as the law is concerned. However, it is a very bad idea to proceed without one. Will this ruin your life? Probably not, but having a criminal record can pose it's challenges, especially with a crime of dishonesty. A crime of dishonesty can prevent you from being hired, can get you fired, and can prevent one from obtaining some specific professional licenses. You're correct that HYTA deferral is not available to you, as you're 32 years old. There are some other ways to avoid having a conviction entered on your criminal record. The Kent County Prosecutor's Office will sometimes defer prosecuting first time offenders if those persons agree to certain conditions. (The conditions are very much like probation conditions). With all of that said, remember that the prosecutor/police must prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt, so don't plan to throw in the towel at the outset. There may be pretrial motions that can be filed on your behalf that will limit the evidence that can be used against you. This can sometimes lead to favorable plea deals, dismissal, or an outright not-guilty verdict. These are things that you need to discuss with an attorney after the particulars of your case are reviewed. I'd suggest that you contact an attorney. Good luck to you.


Everyone has provided you with solid legal answers. I cannot understand why you are agonizing instead of calling a local Grand Rapids lawyer? A lawyer will consult with you and try to determine the underlying reasons for your recent risky destructive behavior. Clearly, you have lived 32 years without ever getting into trouble. There may be some recent issues that explain your conduct which your attorney will know how to best utilize in the court system. Then the lawyer may have you get involved in counseling rather than remain in a dreadful state. The lawyer will also seek out all of your past positives which can often be used when speaking to the prosecutor, probation officer and the Judge about your background. While the past positives will not erase the negative, your attorney may use this information to seek a delayed sentence or other favorable disposition. Worst case scenario is that you would be eligible for expungement of this offense in 5 years if you do not have any other type of record. Please help yourself. Grand Rapids is known for an area with top-drawer law firms.