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I screwed up, need some advice.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Just like to say "Hi" to all. It's been awhile since I've been here. Before I start, I'd like to say I'm not a bad person, and have never done anything illegal up to this point, outside of speeding in my car. I'm upper-middle class, 19 years old and work really, really hard in college and my opticianary work. But I screwed up royally... See, my friend and I were bored so we needed something exciting to do. We decided to go to Wal-Mart (a store I hadn't gone to in years), and pull an "Ocean's 11" on the big blue corporate monster. We went inside to see if they actually had anything of interest worth taking, and it turns out they had some higher-end colognes. We each took 2 bottles (RL Romance, Burberry London, CK Crave and Dior Addict - for a friend) and headed out the door, only to be stopped by a security officer right outside the door. I'm now charged with petty larceny even though the merchandise was returned. My court date is May 10. Does anyone know what kind of procedure I will go through? What kind of fine I will face? I'm so scared, and I'm doing the best I can to hide this from my parents who I still live with. If anyone can tell me what I've gotten myself into, I'd be forever in your debt. I know there are a lot of bright minds here, and if I remember correctly a couple w/ vast legal knowledge, so I thought this would be a good place to come and seek help. Again, I'm sorry for bringing this to your's so humiliating...I just don't know what else to do. Thanks for any help you can provide...
post #2 of 11
I'm not a lawyer...but I am an undergrad political science student.  Luckily for you your crime is not a felony, which could screw you for life.  Chances are that Wal Mart security could testify that they saw you take the goods and leave without paying.  They may also have this on camera.  In your case the best option would probably be to plea bargain this.  Provided that you have no background indicating a pattern of such behavior, the prosecutor probably won't seek any severe punishment.  He'll probably seek probation and a fine.  If you have a little money saved up I would suggest consulting a lawyer.  If not, consider telling your parents about the situation.  Chances are that you can make a deal with a lawyer to handle this case for a set fee.  These cases are pretty routine, and often defense attorneys and prosecutors have agreements that certain cases will be handled in a routine manner, meaning that certain crimes will have set sentences.  The defense attorney has to do very little, but having one present could halp prevent you from agreeing to whatever the prosecutor throws at you and possibly get you a somewhat more favorable agreement.  This case could probably be expunged from your record after not too long.  If you don't fight the charges you will probably be better off than fighting the charges and risking losing what seems to be a case in which there's not much in your favor.  If you fight the charges and lose they would likely increase the penalty since that is seen as lacking remorse.  Anyway, sorry...I'm not a lawyer, but as you noted there are probably a good number on this board who could give you further advice.  Best of luck.
post #3 of 11
Not to be a dick and all, but don't steal? I realize people like to rip on Wal Mart and the like just because of some deluded anti-corporate notions, but stealing from them is just as bad as stealing from a mom and pop store. Especially when you clearly could afford whatever it is and are just doing it for spite, excitement, or whatever. I can't say I have any sympathy, especially since it seems like you're only upset because you got caught, and not because you commited a crime. I plan on eventually going to law school, but I'm not there yet, so I honestly can't offer any legal help, but I think you just have to suck it up and just try to show the court that you are genuinely repentant and not just looking to skirt the system, and they might be lenient since you're a first time offender. It might not be a bad idea to just tell your parents outright and see if they can help you out with advice or a lawyer or whatever, plus it's better for them to find out from you right away than to learn about it some other way. Good luck, and just try to use a little more sense in the future.
post #4 of 11
First thing you have to do is to tell your parents. There's no way you're going to be able to hide this from your parents, and they'll be even more pissed off when they find out rather than you telling them. With your parents help, you'll be able to hire a lawyer. That's the most important thing at this point. This will probably cost you and your parents a lot more than what you stole, but it will be still be cheaper in the long run. You might be unlucky and get a prosecutor who sees you as a spoiled brat, and tries to make an example out of you. Since your're being tried for petty larceny, you'll get probation and community service. Go for the plea bargain. With the help of a lawyer, you should be able to plead guilty to something not as serious. If you were under 18, it would have been better for you.
post #5 of 11
Just wanted to stress how important it is for you to tell your parents. From there, they should be able to help you out. Honestly, there's not much else you can do after that.
post #6 of 11
Tell your parents, because they will find out one way or another. Don't make lame excuses and don't shift the blame. You're going to get the dressing down of your life, but coming clean is the best chance you have of regaining their trust and respect in the future. Get a good lawyer. It's going to hurt your pocketbook. But this is one of those things you don't want to be skimping on.
post #7 of 11
In the case of petty larceny and other small crimes (even some big ones) you can get into a program called AC (Accelerated Rehabilitation), names vary state by state but that's what its called in CT. You'd have to do around 20 hours of community service and show up to something similar to probation a few times. If you do this successfully, your record will be cleared of the charge. There is another program for first time offenders that similar to AC but I can't remember the name. The court appointed public defender can usually handle this, but a lawyer would be better he might find a way for the charges to be dropped.
post #8 of 11
And don't act on things you see in movies. And learn how you are apparently easily affected by peer pressure and come up with values that you will abide by internally to avoid being affected such pressure again in the future. And if your friends show no remorse for their part in the scheme, drop the losers and find new friends.
post #9 of 11
And if your friends show no remorse for their part in the scheme, drop the losers and find new friends.
I disagree strongly with this. As long as they remain loyal, they are still your friends. They may be assholes, but they're your assholes. On the other hand, don't get talked into doing any more dumb shit.
post #10 of 11
I disagree strongly with this.  As long as they remain loyal, they are still your friends.  They may be assholes, but they're your assholes.  
I disagree with this also; siding with vero group's statement. The people whom you choose to associate yourself with are very much a reflection on the type of person that you are.  If you have thiefs as friends, than that will set you up to, even if not a participant, become guilty by association in their future nefarious activities.
post #11 of 11
Vero, LAG: I see both sides of your debate and have some experience in this. A childhood buddy of mine has developed a serious alcohol problem over the years -- so serious that he has done several stints in the county lockup for DUI and drug possession. Alcohol so severly impaired his judgement that he once had, uh, relations, with his wife's 15-year-old daughter. Next thing, he gets popped for statutory rape of a minor and does 3 years in the slammer. He got out recently, and I heard he was delivering pizzas and went on a drunk, got popped for a public intoxication and in doing so violated his parole and got thrown back in jail. Now, I still love him, he's my friend. But I certainly have limited his access to me over the years. He's just too screwed up. So, I guess you have to play it both ways. Don: Whatever you do, try to find a pennance that will expunge this from your record. It's in the state's interest to put you in a diversion program like that rather than waste resources prosecuting a guy who probably is not or never will be a hard-core criminal. You don't want that arrest popping up in a background check in a few years when you go to get a job. Something like that, as well as bad credit, are things that will haunt you for years.
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