first offense shoplifting at walmart in Arkansas.
Question Details: I was caught shoplifting in walmart, probably less than $20.00 worth of stuff. I thought that walmart didn't prosecute for less than $20?!? Anyway I was lucky enough to only get a ticket instead of jail. Can't I just plead guilty and pay the ticket instead of going to court? I am from Arkansas and heard that the fine went up to $600. Any advice? thanks
I am a lawyer in CT and practice in this area of the law. I suggest going to court and trying to make some kind of charitable contribution and tell the state's atty that you regret what you did. The theft charge is not something that you want on your record no matter how insignificant. I do not think that you need to hire a lawyer, but it can certainly help especially if you do not have a criminal record and want to keep your perfect record in tact.
Although I do not practice law in the State of Arkansas, here are my initial impressions. First, you should be aware that you are not being prosecuted by Walmart. Private citizens/corporations do not have the authority to prosecute individuals in criminal proceeding. Rather, private citizen/corporations can prosecute civil proceedings; however, I think in this case that would be unlikely given the relatively small amount of money at issue. Therefore, what has happened is that Walmart has reported your alleged criminal activity to the police, and the police have decided to arrest you. The state is certainly within its authority to prosecute you from that point forth. With respect to whether you have to go to court, you should read your ticket very closely. If it requires your appearence, then you absolutely MUST appear in Court on that day or else risk additional criminal charges for failure to appear. Although ticket does not feel like an arrest in the sense that you may not have been cuffed, booked, and brought to the station, any ticket, including a speeding ticket, is still technically an arrest. Finally, anytime you have criminal charges pending it is a good idea to consult with and/or retain an attorney to represent your interests in order to obtain the most favorable resolution possible, whether that involves getting the charges thrown out, making a charitable contribution, participating in a diversionary program, or entering some kind of plea negotation. Good luck.