What if I get caught taking $150 worth of Walmart merchandise with a clean record?
4 attorney answers
Obviously, there are more facts in your case than the few you shared here. Do not go into the full particulars in an on-line posting web-site. You really should discuss this matter with an attorney in the privacy of an attorney-client privileged conversation.
I am not your lawyer and this should not be considered the giving of legal advice. Please remember that if you find an answer particularly helpful, please mark it as helpful or "best answer" so that the attorneys who volunteer their time to answer these questions have feedback. This answer is only for informational purposes, is not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and must be judged on its own unique facts.
There are multiple possibilities to this scenario..You can or your lawyer can negotiate a plea on your behalf that could conceivably be a withheld adjudication and court costs and or some probation or you could be offered or pursuit a Diversion Program which could lead to a dismissal of your charges..I recommend the later...If your charges are dropped and you have no priors, you would be entitled to have your record expunged....in Florida
If this is your first offense then it is almost certain that you will be eligible for a diversionary program.
Diversion is a program which is designed to make you think twice about future criminality by way of making you jump through a series of proverbial hoops during a period of supervision, successful completion of which results in a dismissal. The program is owned and operated by the State Attorney's Office and they have absolute and unequivocal discretion as to whether to admit you, keep you or "graduate" you from their program.
Knowing that, the question now is whether or not diversion is right for you. There may or may not be viable defenses to the charges, affirmative or otherwise, or there may be factual, legal, procedural or substantive mechanisms by which to attack and beat the charges without going through diversion.
The best way for you to get competent advise is going to be to have a face-to-face meeting with a criminal defense lawyer who can follow-up on your information with questions of her/his own, as well as review the police reports and citations and then offer an informed opinion.
Please take a look at mt AVVO Legal Guide on Diversion in Florida. It contains a great deal of information on the subject and should be helpful to you. For your convenience a link follows:
Michael A. Haber, Esq.'s AVVO Legal Guide on Pre-Trial intervention / Diversion: What is it and is it right for me? - https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/pre-trial-intervention--diversion-what-is-it-and-is-it-right-for-me
As an aside, you may also receive a letter in the mail from the retailer demanding that you pay them money as a civil penalty. If this happens then you should know that in order for them to get the civil penalty they have to be able to prove (by clear and convincing evidence) that they were injured by your theft. The statute authorizing the civil demand (see F.S. 772.11 - a link appears below ) permits a retailer to seek a minimum of $200 in damages, but to do so they have to first file a civil lawsuit, which will cost them hundreds of dollars just to file, and then many more to prosecute. Their demand letter to you is essentially an offer to settle a potential civil lawsuit for $200.00, a lawsuit which has not yet, and which may never be, filed.
That said, whether or not you pay them is both a personal and a civil, and NOT a criminal defense related, question.
Please see: FS 772.11 - Civil Theft / http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/772.11
Wishing you better judgment, luck and hoping that I have been helpful in answering your question.
First, second and third: No attorney-client relationship exists by virtue of any Q&A with Michael A. Haber, Esq. on Avvo. Fourth: Anything that you post on Avvo (or on similar sites) or on any social media is by its nature public. It is essentially an admission / confession and can be introduced into evidence as a statement against your interest in a subsequent legal proceeding. Once posted you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy, so, as this is an open forum (with no privilege attached), please be extra careful when considering what to post online (forewarned is forearmed.)
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You will most likely be eligible for a pretrial intervention program which if completed your case will be dismissed and you will be eligible for the expunction of your record