I was in Court the other day and witnessed a disturbing exchange between a defendant and the judge. The defendant was before the Court on a retail fraud charge, commonly known as shoplifting. Her case was called and she approached the podium alone. When the judge asked how she would like to plead she simply said guilty. The judge asked the individual if she had an opportunity to speak with legal counsel and she said that she had not. The judge then asked if she would like to speak with legal counsel prior to entering a plea as she may be able to improve her current situation with the benefit of counsel. She shrugged and declined. This exchange went on for quite some time until finally a family member called out that she would like to speak to someone and the matter was adjourned to allow the defendant to obtain legal advice.
Everything about the answers given in Court by the defendant, and her demeanor as she shrugged the whole thing off, screamed of indifference. She appeared to simply not want to go through the trouble of learning her rights to try to improve her situation. What a mistake! Even the least serious of the retail fraud charges, retail fraud – third degree, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500 or 3 times the value of the property stolen, whichever greater.
If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, even one as "small" as retail fraud or shoplifting, contact a criminal defense attorney at Freedman & Freedman to discuss your case and your legal options. Never consider it too much of a hassle to learn your rights.