When you get arrested for shoplifting in Massachusetts, it may seem like your life is over.
You may start to think about the way this mistake will impact your career, immigration status, school loans and reputation in the community. The truth of the matter is that hope is not lost. There are a number of things that can be done and by knowing about them, you can help create a brighter future for yourself.
The most important thing you can do is to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
You could hire a public defender, but often times they are so overworked that they cannot give your case the necessary attention. When you are looking for an attorney, you want to find one that specializes in shoplifting cases to ensure you get the best representation possible. You need an attorney who understands the charges that can be brought against you and can look for loopholes or violations in the law to help get the charges dropped or lessened.
If you have been arrested for shoplifting and even if there is no way to dispute the evidence in question, there are still many things that can be done to lessen the charges, reduce the penalties, or get the charges dismissed. Some of the different ways a good shoplifting attorney can help you are:
- Show Cause Hearing: If you are charged with a misdemeanor shoplifting and have not been arrested, you are entitled to a Show Cause or Clerk’s Hearing. At that time, the Clerk can decide not to issue a complaint, particularly if this is a 1st offense.
- Lowering the Severity of the Charges: This option is good for those who are charged with a felony count of shoplifting, resulting in a less harsh form of punishment.
- Plea Bargains: There are many ways that a plea bargain can work and could result in anything from agreeing to a lesser punishment to a drop in the charges once you have completed the agreed upon punishment, such as community service, restitution, court costs or probation.
In some cases, your shoplifting lawyer may be able to get most of the charges dismissed prior to arraignment, so they never appear on your probation record. This result means that there are no immigration consequences and future or current employers will never be aware of it.
Most often the charges can be dismissed at a Clerk’s Hearing (Show Cause), other times by the District Attorney or police prosecutor in front of a judge. Motions can also be filed to dismiss for failure to provide a Clerk’s Hearing and for lack of probable cause. In other cases, if you are under 22 years of age, your record can be protected through Pre-Trial Diversion.
If you are arrested for shoplifting, your shoplifting attorney can file a variety of motions to dismiss or suppress the evidence. Each case is unique and strategies depend on the specific facts of your case. Once your attorney has had the opportunity to read your police report and talk to you, they will be in a position to give you an opinion of your case and what they can do for you.