Shoplifting can have serious consequences; offenders can end up in jail for up to 6 months. It means that they have a permanent criminal record. However, there are diversion programs that allow offenders to avoid this.
The criminal prosecutor can dismiss the case if the offender agrees to attend classes, pay fees or do community service. Here are some essential things you should know about diversion programs;
- Types of diversion programs
Formal diversion is where the offender is requested to complete a diversion program. After they complete the program, their case is closed.
Informal diversion is when a person in the judicial system, like the police, asks a shoplifter to attend the diversion program. It is a condition a person must complete for their case to close.
- Who decides if you’re qualified for a diversion program?
If you get an informal diversion program, it is mainly implemented by the police officer. Formal diversion programs get executed by the criminal prosecutor. They will decide if the offense qualifies for diversion under the law.
Get a criminal defense lawyer if you have shoplifting charges. A criminal defense lawyer can help you get into the diversion program for shoplifting and avoid jail time.
- It is available for first-time offenders
A shoplifting offense can lead to a six months jail term. There is also up to $5000 worth of fine, depending on the seriousness of the crime. The time or penalty that gets charged depends on the severity of the criminal charges. Diversion programs are available for first-time offenders that have stolen not more than $5000 worth of items.
- How do you qualify for a diversion program?
Suppose it is the first time you are shoplifting from a store; someone has to vouch for your character. The value of stolen items should not cost the store owner actual losses. If you cooperated during the arrest, you could qualify for a diversion program.
- What do you need to do to complete a diversion program?
First, you must accept the charges against you outside the court. Donate to a charity the amount that equals the value of the total stolen. Complete a counseling course for shoplifting offenders or do community service. You must also write an apology letter to the person you stole from to show regret for your behavior.
- How long does the diversion program last?
The diversion program depends on the type you choose to take. Diversion cases can generally take anywhere from 2 months to six months. It also depends on the time it takes you to complete the program.
- How long will the diversion records remain open?
When you accept a diversion program, the records of the case will still be kept by the police. The time the records will remain with the police varies from 2 months to 2 years. Take a diversion program that has a shorter access period.
- What is the limit to the number of diversion programs an offender can get?
You can only go through the diversion program once. You will get a jail term if you repeat shoplifting and charges are pressed against you.
Get a good criminal defense lawyer before you get convicted at a trial. A criminal defense lawyer will help you lower charges or find a way to contact you into a diversion program. If you or someone close to you is found shoplifting, hire a professional criminal defense lawyer