Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys discuss recent case results in a petit theft or shoplifting case decided in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL.
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Client Allowed to Withdraw Plea
Our client was arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting or petit theft in Pinellas County, FL, at a Bealls Department Store. The client had never been arrested before and was totally unfamiliar with the criminal justice system. Instead of bonding out of jail, she entered a guilty plea at first appearance court within a few hours of her arrest.
Mistake to Plead Guilty to Petit Theft
At the time our client entered the plea she did not have an opportunity to speak with an attorney. She did not understand that she was potentially eligible for a petit theft diversion program in Clearwater, Pinellas County. She did not understand that the plea would mean she was convicted of a "crime of dishonesty" which would show up on any background check anytime she applied for a job.
Because she entered the plea to petit theft without first talking with an attorney, on May 27, 2009, the court in Clearwater, FL, accepted the plea to petit theft, adjudicated the client guilty of the misdemeanor crime, and ordered her to pay a fine and court costs.
Undo the Damage
After the case was resolved, the client realized the serious consequences of the plea. She contacted our office to find out if there was anyway to undo the damage. After she retained the firm we immediately filed a Motion to Withdraw the Plea under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(l), which allows the Court to permit a plea or guilty or "no contest" to be withdrawn after sentencing upon a showing of a manifest necessity. The motion to withdraw the plea must be filed within 30 days after the sentencing, and heard by the trial court within 60 days after sentencing.
Motion to Vacate Petit Theft Conviction Granted
Our Motion to Withdraw the Plea was granted on June 24, 2009, when the Court in Clearwater, Pinellas County, FL, agreed that a "manifest injustice" has resulted from the plea since our client entered the plea to petit theft without an attorney and without a clear understanding of the consequences of the plea.
Petit Theft Charges Will Be Dropped
After the conviction for petit theft was vacated, the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm were able to convince the prosecutor to allow the client to enter a petit theft diversion program for a period of six months which required that she pay fees for $130.00, and take a shoplifting awareness course. The benefit of entering the diversion program is that the charges will be completely dropped.
Criminal Record Can Be Sealed
After completing the diversion program, when the charges are completely dropped, the client will be eligible to seal her criminal record so that no one could find out about the arrest and prosecution.
After a criminal record is sealed, the mug shot and other embarassing details about the case will not show up on the clerk of court website or the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Website.
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Don't Make a Mistake and Face the Judge Alone
If you have been charged with shoplifting or petit theft in Clearwater or Pinellas County, FL, contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your options for best dealing with the case. Call us at 813-250-0500 to discuss the details of the case and come up with a plan to quickly help you put the matter behind you for good.
Read More About Our Results in Other Florida Shoplifting Cases
Tampa Attorney Discusses Shoplifting Case in Hillsborough County, FL.