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What actions should i take and what could be the punishment for my actions?

Seattle, WA |

I am 18 years old and was arrested for stealing about $60 worth of stuff from a retail shop. I have no previous criminal background. i was to receive a paper telling me my court date but did not. i missed my court date. what happens now? am i in more trouble, do i need a lawyer and if i can't afford one, what should i do? will i go to jail ?!?

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Attorney answers 5


The paper giving you a court date is a summons. the summons is tyically mailed to the address that the Department of Licensing has. Is your address updated with DOL ? You were probably summonsed for an arraignment which is a hearing where the accused is formally read the charges and bail and conditions of release are ordered. When a defendant misses a court date, there is typically a bench warrant that issues. That means you can be arrested at any time. You need to set up a hearing to quash the warrant. You should obtain get an attorney either by retaining one or, if you qualify, you can have a public defender assigned to you. You could go to the public defender's office to explain your situation. The public defender will know how to set up a quash hearing. It is possible you could be in more trouble, but probably not. I imagine the address to where the summons was sent is not your current address. There are several ways to resolve a case like this. You should discuss those options with your attorney.


You need a lawyer. If you can't afford one, you should see about getting one appointed. You need to get back before the court on your own before you are arrested on a warrant.

Waiting to be picked up (you will be picked up) will only make things worse.

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You need to talk to an attorney in your area. Quashing that warrant is priority number one. Once that is done, an attorney in that area who does a lot of defense will most likely know if that particular store will do a "compramise of misdemeanor." That is a method in which you basically pay the store for the goods and/or for their trouble, and the case can be dismissed. Lastly, don't talk about the facts of your case over a forum like this. Good Luck.


The first issue you need to resolve is getting the warrant that was most likely issued by the court since you failed to appear. Most courts have a procedure for getting them quashed or you can pay it. But this first thing to do is retain a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you, including helping you take care of the warrant. Otherwise, you do run the risk of arrest if you are stopped by an officer. Regarding your case itself, many times these types of cases can be resolved while protecting your record. Here to help.


Given that the merchandise was under $250, you have most likely been charged with Theft in the third degree under RCW 9A.56.050, which is a gross misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail. The court date that you missed was most likely your arraignment date. Since you failed to appear, a warrant was probably issued. You definitely want to speak to an attorney to help you get the warrant cleared up. Once you return to court, your attorney can try to negotiate a resolution for you that does not include jail time. Best of Luck.