If you plead not guilty, your case will be set for a pretrial hearing and perhaps a trial. But if you have no record, you have several options to minimize the impact of this offense on your record and your future. Many of us on Avvo provide a free consultation--contact some attorneys and find out what your options are.
If you are not pleading guilty then your case will be set for pretrial hearing. It is best to involve an attorney so you can be advised of other options that are available to you as a first time offender. You are young and the effect of theft conviction is great.
I agree with Mr. Chambers. What I would do if I were you is everything possible to have the case reduced to an infraction (490.1 or even 415(2)). Take an online shoplifting prevention course at Tom Wilson Counseling or the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention. Finish the course and bring the completion certificate to court. Hire an attorney and discuss a motion for civil compromise to have the case dismissed under Penal Code 1377 and 1378 if the "victim" is cooperative. How old are you? Some courts allow a delayed entry of plea form of diversion wherein you can agree to perform some community service in exchange for a dismissal once you are done. Be proactive.
Take a deep breath. Speak with a criminal defense lawyer about your options. If this is your first offense you may be eligible for an alternative program that results in no conviction. You have a lot of time ahead of you! If you learn your lesson, and don't do anything worse than this you should be alright.
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Get an attorney or a pubic defender will be appointed. You cannot handle this yourself.
Andrew Roberts (818) 597-0633/ (805) 496-7777