Why You Should Consult a Lawyer Before Doing a First Offender Program for Petit Larceny

February 28, 2020
consulting a lawyer

If you live in the Fairfax County, Virginia area, it’s important to know petit larceny is a common charge. If you have been arrested and charged with this crime as a first offense, you may be offered to enter into a program for first-time offenders with the promise of dismissal upon completion. However, it’s wise to consult a lawyer before you do anything.

In Fairfax County, you can enter an Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources program, also simply known as OAR, if you have been arrested and charged with a first offense for petit larceny and meet their other eligibility criteria. In exchange for participating in the OAR Program, your petit larceny charge will be dismissed.

In general, the OAR Program requires you to complete 50 hours of community service. You must also demonstrate good behavior for a period of time determined by the judge. You will also be ordered to attend a theft educational course and pay $100 fee for the program.

So, what’s wrong with that?

Although successful completion of the OAR Program would result in no criminal conviction, the underlying citation or arrest for the petit larceny charge would not be eligible for expungement under current Virginia law. This is because, as with the 251 Program in marijuana cases, the OAR Program for petit larceny is classified as a “deferred finding.” See What Qualifications Must I meet for Expungement for more information.

Additionally, and similar to situations involving the 251 Program, a person who is eligible for the OAR Program could still be placed in that program after going to trial and losing. For this reason, barring extreme circumstances, I usually suggest using the OAR Program for petit larceny as a safety net rather than as an immediate option in petit larceny cases.

What can a criminal defense attorney do to help?

The reasons discussed above should be enough to show how rushing into the OAR Program would be a big mistake. Hiring a Fairfax VA criminal defense attorney is your first step in the right direction. There could be any number of possible legal issues or obstacles that the prosecution might have in proving your case, which a lawyer could use to your advantage. A qualified criminal defense attorney can search for these evidentiary issues, prepare you for your day in court, and talk to the prosecutor to try to get the charge dropped without the use of the OAR Program. Additionally, if the prosecutor does not agree to drop the charge outright, then taking the case to trial might be your best option and having a criminal defense attorney representing you at trial gives you the best chances at a favorable outcome. Finally, as mentioned above, a criminal defense attorney would be your best avenue to convince a judge to enroll you in the OAR Program as a back-up plan if you do not prevail at trial.

Even if you are instantly tempted to enroll in the OAR Program to have your charges dismissed, you should still contact an attorney. Rudolphi Law is there for you to protect your rights. A Fairfax criminal attorney will make sure you are making the right decision in your case. Contact a Fairfax criminal attorney at Rudolphi Law at your earliest convenience.