Q: I was convicted of retail theft and I was not sure of my mistake because I was very sick and lost my debit card and went back to retrieve it. Also, I have been sick for 2 weeks since the incident happened. I was on medication but was not sure what happened but was willing to pay for everything. They stopped me when leaving but the guy was not listening and told me it’s too late. I think I forgot because I was too worried about my debit card and had stress on my mind. I want the charges dropped. I don’t want it on my record and need of a defender. What should I do? It will ruin my life if I get charged. How do I get a Public Defender as I have no job right now? (West Homestead, PA)
A: Stop the drama and talk to an attorney. In Allegheny County, there is a first -time offender’s program for Retail Theft whereby you don’t admit guilt, you complete a class on the evils of Retail Theft and the charge is withdrawn. After that you can pay an attorney to expunge your arrest record, and then you will have a clean record. I do this all the time. Call a private attorney or sign up with the PD. The Allegheny County PD is in room 400 of the County Office Building in downtown Pittsburgh at the corner of Forbes and Ross St. You can go there or call. There number might be 412-350-2401. If you are computer savvy, just look them up. They require that you apply a week in advance of your hearing, so get on it. Good Luck!