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Law Office of Jack Kotchick

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Defending Your Rights | You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Don't rush to accept a plea deal on a shoplifting charge

Have you been charged with shoplifting? Are you tempted to take a plea deal because it guarantees you a fine and nothing more?

The offer to just "get things over with" certainly seems to be attractive, and a fine seems easy to live with (especially when you're scared and feel threatened with up to a year in jail if you lose at trial).

Think carefully before you accept that deal, however, because the long-term consequences of a shoplifting conviction could wreck your life in unexpected ways. Most people don't realize exactly how a retail theft conviction will affect them until it's far too late to mount a defense. While hiring a defense attorney and fighting a theft charge in court seems like a big expense and a huge hassle to avoid a first-time petty theft (known as "petit larceny" in New York) charge, any other choice may be far more costly in the long run.

A misdemeanor theft charge is far more than an inconvenience. It's a serious potential liability. These days, nearly every employer does a background check on its prospective employees.

If you're in college, a conviction for theft can ruin your chances at an internship -- which may be necessary for you to graduate in certain degree programs. Once you are out of college, you can expect similar problems finding your footing in your career. That conviction will brand you a thief, and no potential employer is going to risk the liability of hiring you.

There are numerous possible defenses to a shoplifting charge. In many cases, for example, the theft actually occurs by accident. People often forget small items that are in the bottom of a cart. A rush to judgment on the part of a store's security team can result in theft charges when you would have simply returned the item once you noticed it was there.

It's always wise to seek the guidance of a criminal defense attorney whose job is to protect your rights before deciding on whether to take a plea deal or not.

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Law Office of Jack Kotchick

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Binghamton, NY 13901

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