The situation: You are busted for stealing money as a cashier at a popular retail chain, in the amount of $115.00 total over four different transactions and two weeks time. Evidence is captured by store's loss prevention and you are detained, questioned, terminated, then on top of that they are pressing charges and have you arrested on the spot. You are questioned again at the police station then taken to county jail and booked with misdemeanor first offense for petty theft. After release a day later you have a pending court date in about two months. Now what can you expect to happen in court? In this case, you don't really need a lawyer, unless you want one to show up for you in court. It will cost you about $500 in San B. county to hire one. You only need a public defender if you are pleaing not guilty at your arraignment. Otherwise, you show up for your date without legal counsel. Most people there won't have lawyers. If your name is posted on the court's bulletin board (should be in or around where you enter the building), you don't have to wait in line. You just go to the waiting area and the clerk will call each court in when they're ready. So if you're in C1 (court 1), you just go in when he calls that court in. The judge reviews the cases for that session previous to this day, and sets up sentencing offers if you will plea guilty at your arraignment (which is what they call this court date). The clerk calls each person up and discusses quickly all the details of the case to you and then what the judge has decided. For petty theft first offense misdemeanor I was sentenced 2 years informal probation, $435 fine (payable in $50 increments-they send the bill to you in the mail), and 1 day in county jail (but I was credited with having already served this when I was booked and spent the night in jail after arrest). After that you just decide either to plea guilty and accept the judge's sentence or not guilty and they set up a future date for trial. Next you wait and talk to the judge very briefly wherein he/she tells you all the details again of the sentence or sets up a future date for trial if you plead not guilty. Then you wait again until the clerk calls your name. You go up and are given the paperwork on your sentence (if you pled guilty) and that's it.... I'm not a lawyer, this is just what I went through personally. Made a stupid mistake and having never been arrested or anything in my life, didn't know what the hell to do. Bad enough you lose your job and get the mark on your record, get arrested and go to jail. Then no one could tell me anything about what to expect before I went to court, and no way could I afford to pay a lawyer. Anyway, this was my experience, hopefully if will help anyone else out there in the same situation.