I was recently caught for shoplifting and will be appearing in court in less then two weeks. I have no idea what to do or what to expect, I just turned 18 and am terrified of appearing in court. SHould I get a lawyer or could I go alone ? And what should I expect? WHAT do I do??? I really need help.
3 Answers from Attorneys
It is usually better to get a lawyer, especially since you are scared. If you have no previous criminal record (and since you say you just turned 18 hopefully you don't), the State's Attorney might agree to put your case on the stet (inactive) docket, or the judge might agree to give you probation before judgment which doesn't go on your record as a conviction.
Re: Shoplifting is Theft in Maryland
There is no longer a charge of "shoplifting" in Mayland, it now comes under the Theft Statute, Article 27 Section 342 of the Maryland Code. For theft under the value of $500.00 the maximum penalty is 18 months in jail and/or $500.00 fine. With this sever penalty, plus a conviction will remain on your record for life, you should not go to Court without a lawyer. First a criminal trial lawyer will verify that the State can prove its case. Second, a criminal trial lawyer can make arrangements with the State so that there is no conviction on your record. Spend the money and get a lawyer, representing yourself and coming out on the short end, is something you will regret over and over again.
An attorney can assist you indefending yourself or in obtaining the best possible plea bargin.
An Attorney can Also assist you in expunging your arrest record and convivtion if possible.
Feel free to call me if you wish to discuss this matter further.
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