What’s going to happen?

Both of my sisters were recently caught
shoplifting together. They are both
over 18. The total amount of goods they
had together was 88. They were put
through a book and release, but then
given a court date to appear. Neither
of them have a prior criminal
record,except a few traffic violations,
if that counts. On top of that, one is
a single mom, and has sole custody of
her child, and the other is head of
household for her family with 3
children. What can they expect to
happen?

Asked on May 22, 2016 under Criminal Law, Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

When a defendant has no prior criminal record (i.e. they are a first time offender), the courts allow for a special probation known as "diversion". This is a legal tool that allows a person to clear their criminal record upon successful completion of their sentence. pursuant to such an alternative sentencing program, the defendant goes to court and pleads guilty to the charges. The judge then issues a probation (typically community service, restitution, payment of a fine, etc). If and when the sentence is fully completed, the plea is withdrawn and the case dismissed. Basically, the case is "diverted" out of the criminal justice system. The person is then left with a clean criminal history record.
At this point, your sisters may want to consult with a criminal law attorney. Since diversion is only available to first-time offenders, if a alwyer can get the charges dropped on a technicality, etc, then diversion would be available to them again in the future should they ever need it.


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