Yes, you clearly want to get a CERTIFIED copy of all the court records.
Yes, you certainly want an attorney to help prepare a legal memo to take to the Consulate.
Yes, you'll probably get the visa.
Yes, I've had cases like this.
Consider consulting with an attorney as-soon-as-possible .. . many of us use Skype.
PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, keep in mind that this is an INTERNET BLOG. You should not rely on anything you read here to make decisions which impact on your life. Meet with an attorney, via Skype, or in person, to obtain competent personal and professional guidance.
You want to double check what happened. If you pled no contest and were fined $500, you were convicted. Theft is a crime involving moral turpitude, and is significant for immigration purposes.
However, there is the petty offense exception, which may apply in your case.
Talk to an immigration lawyer to clarify your case.
If you plead 'no contest' the case was not dismissed. A no contest plea is the same as pleading guilty. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney because a petty theft conviction is a crime of moral turpitude which may exclude you or may be grounds for deportation.
In my professional opinion even if a case is dismissed and you avoided a criminal conviction in a petty criminal case, you have still created a criminal record and have an arrest of that event. The best route is to obtain a Certified Criminal Disposition of that criminal matter and properly present and legally explain that episode.
I do not recommend doing it pro se as such submission calls for a legal finesse to present the matter properly.
DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general information and basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone a specific legal advice. Anyone using the site expressly consents that there is no attorney client privilege between any person and any attorney responding. Further take notice that the site should not be used as a crude substitute for any professionally competent legal advice by a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction. The attorney above attempted to provide a competent professional opinion, however, the law and its applications change frequently and vary greatly from other U.S. jurisdictions and locales. Therefore, any information and opinions expressed are general in nature, and may not apply to specific, factual or legal circumstances related to one's present legal issues. Contact an experienced lawyer admitted to practice in that State under an attorney-client privilege to further receive comprehensive legal assistance before making an educated decision about your particular legal issue. Respectfully, Attorney Alexander Ivakhnenko, Chicago, Illinois