I was arrested for Misdemeanor Theft, what should I do?
A charge of theft involving an amount under $300.00 is a misdemeanor. Most misdemeanor theft cases involve “shoplifting.” In other words, taking an item while you are shopping at a store. I have a specific page for if you are charged with shoplifting HERE.
I’m charged with theft, what happens now?
First, you have a date to attend court. At court the Judge will ask you if you plan on hiring an attorney to represent you. Provided you have hired an attorney, your attorney will file an Appearance. An Appearance is a formal way to inform the court that you have an attorney. Initially, after your attorney files his or her Appearance, he or she will make a motion for Discovery. Discovery is the step to obtain all of the evidence that the state has against you. For example, the police reports, video, and witness statements are all part of Discovery. Typically, the case will be continued for another court date to allow your attorney an opportunity to review the Discovery and watch any video evidence.
How to Have the Case Dismissed:
The only way to have the charge dismissed is to either file a pretrial motion or to have a trial.
Court Supervision is NOT a dismissal.
Court Supervision is NOT a dismissal. It is a plea of guilty. The Court does not enter a conviction against you, but you have plead guilty to the theft charge. Although Court Supervision may be a good alternative in some circumstances, it usually is not the best disposition. However, Court Supervision allows an attorney to close a case fast and tell you that you “beat” the case (although you did not). The attorney will claim that because you avoided a conviction, he won the case. This is simply not true.
When you “beat” a case, you leave court and do not have to pay a penny. The court rules that you are “not guilty” or that the case is dismissed. You do not have to plead “guilty.”
Defenses to Theft:
Usually a theft case is won not by the defendant’s testimony, but rather by cross examination of the state’s witnesses.