I am in Ohio.
I know, I know. I made a horrible decision, I don't need a lecture or rude comments from anyone, I am looking for some kind of legal advice or for someone who has been through a similar experience.
In November of 2008 I was charged with petty theft, my first offense of ANY KIND. I took a pair of jeans from a department store, the value was $100. I paid the fines, took the diversion class and completed probation. The judge was very angry, she said if this were to happen again, I would receive 5 months in prison, which seemed extremely harsh considering I had no prior offenses. Yesterday, my friend and I were caught with taking some shampoo and beauty products, valuing $38.
I have no reason to excuse myself, I am completely embarrassed for a number of reasons, including the fact that my two year old son was with us. I cannot find a job because of the previous petty theft conviction (I pled guilty and cannot have it taken off my record). We were cooperative with the store, the police and the police mentioned nothing about providing child services with any kind of information.
I live with my Mom, live off of $220 in child support every month, I am 23 years old and pregnant, now a single parent. I remember learning in the diversion class that people shoplift for different reasons, I have had a very recent loss (my sister died 2 weeks ago) and wonder if that may have triggered me to do something like this again.
I spoke to a lawyer yesterday, who said "truthfully, I don't think you will go to jail. You need some kind of counseling, maybe you'll get some community service". Obviously I need a lawyer, but I cannot afford one, so a public defender is my only option.
Here are my concerns...
Although the judge said if it happened again, I would spend 5 months in prison, is it likely that due to my situation, I will receive NO jail sentence and something like community service and a larger fine?
Will my cooperation with the store, police, the fact that is was only $38 and the fact that I have no prior record other than the first offense help me?
What can I do about getting a job with something like this on my record?
Could I lose custody of my son over something like this? Especially considering his Dad is not in the picture?
Will having a public defender rather than paying for a lawyer, hurt my chances of staying out of jail?
Is there something I could say to the magistrate, or a way I could speak to them privately before the hearing?
I clearly need some help. I don't know what made me do this last year, I don't know what kind of counseling I need, but I know I need some kind of counseling or therapy to get my life on track. I have never done drugs, I don't drink much at all, I don't go out to bars, I have never been in any kind of trouble, except with this. I am scared for myself, but more importantly, my son and unborn child. I would appreciate some kind of legitimate advice or a story about someone's personal experience with this. PLEASE DO NOT WRITE SOMETHING RUDE OR NASTY. I am worried enough, I can't sleep, I can't eat and I have on and off panic attacks. My court date is on the 20th, I don't want to worry constantly until then.
Thanks.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?