Handling a Petty Theft Charge: Should You Do It Yourself or Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?


A theft offense charge can have you wondering whether you need an attorney. Whenever charged with a crime, you can benefit from a lawyer’s guidance. You probably think that petty theft is a minor offense. But, the truth is that a theft conviction can lead to lasting consequences.

Moreover, facing the prosecutors without a Rochester criminal lawyer can only increase your odds of being convicted. You may have a strong defense case, but errors or mistakes can ruin it. A lawyer who specializes in criminal law can put you in the best position to get an acquittal. They know the nature of petty theft charges and how to best defend their client. 

Common Theft Charges

There are several kinds of theft crimes in Minnesota and petty theft is the least serious of them. It refers to the theft of property with under $500 in value. Under state law, petty theft is a misdemeanor. If you will be convicted of this offense, you can serve jail time of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $1, 000. If you are a first-time offender, your attorney may negotiate a plea deal so you can avoid jail time. 

What to Expect If You Don’t Have a Lawyer

Although you are not obliged to hire a lawyer for your petty theft charges, going without one can have serious consequences. As you handle your case on your own, you can make mistakes that can ruin your defense. Representing yourself in your case is not advisable because of the following reasons:

  • You don’t have legal knowledge. A successful defense relies on knowledge of the law. A lawyer has spent years learning the law and growing this knowledge in the field over the years. Criminal law cannot be measured. When you appear in court without a lawyer, your lack of legal knowledge can put you at a disadvantage. 
  • You don’t have courtroom experience. There are a lot of steps involved in criminal cases. Having experience in navigating these steps is essential to winning a petty theft case. If you don’t have courtroom experience, you won’t have an idea about choosing a jury, presenting evidence, and scheduling depositions. Why go through the hassle when you can just let an attorney handle these for you?
  • It has hard to stay objective. If you choose to handle your case without the assistance of a defense lawyer, you may be emotional about your case. As a result, you may not be able to make sound decisions and judgments. This can hurt you in terms of making decisions in terms of preparing for trial or seeking plea bargains.  
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