The first time offender program is designed to dismiss the charge as complied with probation if the defendant pleads facts sufficient to find guilt on the charge, and then complies with terms, generally community service, restitution, a shoplifting class, and good behavior for 6 months. This type of dismissal is not able to be expunged. I would need to know more about the case to see if you qualify or there is a chance of winning the case outright.
Because this is a felony charge and not petit larceny, there is no guarantee or right to the diversion program, and getting the felony amended to a misdemeanor is subject to factors such as: how far in excess of the $200 misdemeanor limit was the value of what was allegedly taken; the perspective of the retail establishment on your pre and post arrest behavior; ANY prior criminal record. The particular prosecutor you draw has a fair amount of discretion in how he/she plea bargains. There are various strategies we can use to your best advantage depending upon your particular facts and circumstances, and of course whether there is an opportunity to have the charge dismissed outright if the case against you cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
A plea bargain is essentially a compromise by the prosecuting attorney to allow the case to be handled in a less severe way than might otherwise be done under the law. The first time offenders program may be available as an option in an scenarior where there is some mental health disorder or other reason that explains the criminal behavior other than merely wanting to steal something. Alot of times, larceny crimes are associated with dependency and the items can be sold to pay for illegal drugs or pills. This may or may not be the case and certainly more information would be helpful to fully evaluate your scenario. A lawyer, either court appointed or retained, should be consulted to discuss this important issue and help you walk through the process and understand it more completely.
Criminal defense Criminal charges Crime classifications Felony crime Misdemeanor crime Defenses for criminal charges Criminal arrest Plea bargaining in criminal cases Victim compensation and criminal conviction Court-ordered community service for criminal conviction Criminal record Probation for criminal conviction Shoplifting