i was just arrested for petty theft, it was my first offence. up until that day i have had a very clean record. not even a speeding ticket. the amount of merchandise totaled at $128.00. i have a court date schedualed in about 2 weeks. i have no choice but to pled no contest because they caught me on camera and a secret shopper followed me..is the judge gonna put me back in jail?
4 Answers from Attorneys
More than likely not. Just enter your plea and you will have to pay a court fine. Don't worry!
I couldn't disagree more with the prior response to your question. You should not enter a plea of no contest!! If you don't have a criminal record, you are eligible for pre trial diversion. Known by different names in different jurisdictions, pre trial diversion allows first-time offenders to keep their record clean by earning a dismissal of the charges by participating in a deferred prosecution program. This will require that you do community service, pay some fees and perhaps take an impulse control and/or anti-theft course. Once you complete the sanctions, the State dismisses the charges, which will then qualify you to expunge (delete) it from your record. Pleading no contest will mean you have a permanent record.
In addition to the advice above, you may be able to get your case dismissed! You should talk to a local criminal defense lawyer or a public defender if you can't afford a private attorney. They will be able to advise you and let you know if you are eligible for a "pre-trial intervention" -like program.
Just to add to the above - if your case is dismissed or you successfully complete PTI, you can then expunge your record. If you plea no contest, and adjudication is withheld, you would be able to seal your record. Both options will remove the arrest from public view. Good luck!
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