The penalties of a theft conviction can be severe and often can lead to jail time. However, a defendant may have other options to serve out their sentence that does not require them to spend time in jail. If you have been convicted for stealing, contact an attorney who can explain theft sentencing options in DC. Let a seasoned theft lawyer help you understand your legal options.
Since misdemeanor theft carries potential jail time of up to six months, one type of sentence an offender may receive could be a suspended sentence in which a person is not sentenced to any jail time, but must serve a period of probation. While on probation, an offender may have certain conditions to meet. Such conditions may include a form of house arrest during which they must wear an electronic monitoring system on their ankle, be subject to a curfew, or have the requirement to stay home when they are not at school or work. Probation requirements could be more lenient, such as avoiding committing any new crimes. In either case, the person may be allowed to remain free from jail time as long as they abide by those conditions.
If a person is found to or alleged to have violated those conditions, they are entitled to a hearing. They can defend themselves against the allegation of the violation, but if a judge finds that they violated a condition of probation, the judge can sentence the person to jail for a portion or all of that suspended sentence.
Another less severe sentencing option to a DC theft case could be the requirement to enroll in a diversion program or a deferred sentencing agreement. Under this agreement, a person comes to court and pleads guilty but rather than facing jail time as a result of their plea, their sentence is deferred, usually for 12 months.
During this time, the defendant must agree to get involved in certain activities such as community service or programs that teach people about the dangers of theft. Another condition to deferred sentencing is that a defendant must stay out of trouble and not commit any new offenses.
If the offender abides by and completes all of these conditions when they return to court in 12 months, the judge may allow them to withdraw their guilty plea and dismiss the case so the person is not convicted and they have no criminal record. At a later date, their case may be eligible for record sealing.
An attorney could help someone obtain an alternative sentence option for their theft case in DC by negotiating with the prosecutor and highlighting weaknesses in their case to indicate that the defendant may be acquitted at trial. The attorney also can emphasize and highlight the defendant’s positive attributes, such as the lack of a criminal record, gainful employment, their status as a student or as a productive member of the community.
Legal counsel may speak with the plaintiff to convince them to support a reduced-sentencing option. If a plaintiff agrees to a more lenient punishment, it could be an important factor in the prosecutor exercising discretion to determine the sort of offer they may make. Ultimately, though, the sentence is up to the judge, but the defendant’s attributes and background may be factors that can be presented to a judge to persuade them to give the most lenient sentence possible.
A skilled attorney could present the most favorable argument and work to ensure a more lenient sentence. If someone believes that their conviction was unfair, and they want to appeal, an attorney also could help them through this complicated process. A well-versed attorney could provide guidance on issues with a defendant’s housing, employment, or a hearing before a professional administrative board.
For all of these reasons, if you are facing a theft conviction, you should speak with a legal representative immediately to learn about theft sentencing options in DC. Call today to schedule a free case consultation.
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