Legal Question in Criminal Law in Tennessee

I got caught shoplifting for under $15. I was charged with petty theft and resisting arrest. I have no idea where he even got resisting arrest. I have never been in trouble before I was in a panic, because he came off very aggressive. I told him I wanted another officer there, because he was frightening me so much I could not think straight. I lied about having the stolen goods when I believe I would have handled the situation differently if he was not so frightening. He told me he didn't care because I was not honest, I can tell a judge and then shoved me hard against the car while putting the handcuffs on very tight. ( I requested twice he loosen them before he would agree.) I honestly just want this to be over. I plan to plead guilty for petty theft, while taking full responsibility for my wrongdoing (It was a stupid mistake), but I'm pleading not guilty for resisting arrest.

My Questions are: Can I request a diversion on the shoplifting alone, if I plead not guilty for resisting arrest?

What am I looking at as far as punishment for petty theft?

What would better my chances of getting unsupervised probation?

How fast can I pay off supervised probation to transfer to unsupervised?

What kind of punishment could I get if they wrongfully convict me of resisting arrest?

Without resisting arrest, how much could this cost me. Of course I know it varies, looking for general estimates?

Lastly, Will I have to go back to court for pleading not guilty on resisting arrest?

Asked on 7/24/13, 11:16 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

I'll answer your questions in the order in which you asked them:

1 - Yes, you can ask for pretrial diversion on the theft charge alone and then plead not guilty on the resisting arrest, but if you are then found guilty of the resisting arrest it would be a permanent conviction, since you will have used your one and only one diversion on the theft charge. In my opinion, it would be far better to try for pretrial diversion on BOTH charges. If you compete diversion in good order, both are dismissed and expunged. If you do not complete diversion, then you can plead guilty to the theft and plead not guilty to the resisting arrest.

2 - Most young, dumb, first time shoplifting offenders receive at worse a small fine, and a period of time to serve on probation, generally with a ban from the store and sometimes the requirement for public service work. Jail on a first offense misdemeanor is very rare.

3 - Unsupervised probation is appropriate when the defendant has completed all terms and conditions imposed by the court (such as 100% payment of fines/costs/restitution, completion of public service work, completed counseling, etc.) and there is nothing more for the defendant to do but remain on good behavior until time runs out.

4 - You can pay off fines and costs in full at any time, but that does not mean that you will automatically be moved to unsupervised probation unless that is a specific right ordered by the judge at the time the plea agreement is announced. Otherwise, you must go back in front of the judge and ask to be transferred to unsupervised probation.

5 - Resisting Arrest is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum possible punishment of six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

6 - A very broad range: $500-$900 in fine and court costs; plus up to $45 per month to the probation officer/agency while on probation supervision. The court has the authority to waive some of those costs and fees upon finding that you are indigent.

7 - If you plead not guilty to any charge, you will usually have at least one, and often more court days that you must appear, depending on whether or not you demand a jury trial.

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Answered on 7/25/13, 1:30 pm

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