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What are the consequences for first time offenses?

Aurora, CO |

I was caught shoplifting and received a civil demand notice (which I plan on paying) and a court date next month. I plan on going to court (with no lawyer because I cannot afford one) and see what happens. It's my first offense and my first time in trouble with the law. What I did was dumb, so dumb and I know that what I did was wrong. Does anyone know what will happen? Will I go to jail or just pay a fee and maybe do community service?

+ What kind of community service do courts make you do?
+ How much would the fee be? (I stole around $30 worth of things.)
+ Do I need someone to represent me or can I represent myself? (I have read that more serious cases like murder/rape/abuse require lawyers and that my case wasn't too serious.)

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Attorney answers 3


If you go and try and represent yourself the DA will want you to plead guilty to some kind of charge. If you do plead guilty to a crime of dishonesty it will probably harm you later. Since this is your very first offense you would want the DA to offer you a deferred judgment and sentence. Do not pay the demand letter as you are being prosecuted and that is the way you are being punished, the demand letter is to scare you. if you are going to plead to something, pay through the court what the court orders as restitution. You can apply for the public defender if you cannot afford a lawyer. Maybe you could use the free consultations of some criminal defense attorneys who can advise you on your specific facts in your specific jurisdiction. Find lawyers with free consultations who practice in the county you are going to court in. If you go to court you can tell the Judge you want a continuance because you are talking to lawyers to help in your case. Do not talk to the district attorney as you may say something that harms you which you think is innocent to say. Good luck.

Ann Toney, P.C. is a law firm in Denver, CO defending DUI, DUID, and marijuana drug charges.


If you qualify based on your financial situation request the public defender - many are very good attorneys & work every day with the same prosecutor & judges & are very familiar with the local court procedures.

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


My advise is always to hire a lawyer no matter what type of case because you do not know how any brush with the law can affect you in the future (employment, education and immigration issues could arise resulting from any type of criminal conviction). Even paying for a consultation with a lawyer would be beneficial to you because you need to remember that the prosecutor does not have your best interests in mind. The job of a prosecutor is to obtain a conviction-not help you. Regarding community service, usually courts have a list of organizations where you can complete your community service. You can expect to pay court costs (these vary depending on whether you are in municipal or county court); sometimes a community service fee; and other fees such as payment to a victim's compensation fund which is a fund set up to help victim's financially. These are all areas an attorney can guide you through which is another advantage to hiring or consulting with a lawyer.