No need to start a different question.
Your Expert asked if I could look this over as she moved it to Criminal law.
When someone is believed to have shoplifted, a store can come after them both civilly (you've already paid that fine) and also criminally. They can do that even if they have gotten their money back because criminal cases have to do with punishment for the unlawful act.
In Washington theft
of this amount would be Theft in the Third Degree
, which is a gross misdemeanor
, punishable by up to a year in jail. However, realistically speaking if she hasn't been in trouble before she will not have to worry about incarceration. But an equal concern would be whether she could come out of this matter without a criminal record
, since theft offenses, even on a misdemeanor level make job hunting very difficult.
Your wife should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible once she knows she has a court date and see if he can get her into a pretrial diversion program or some other type of deferral program by negotiating with the state. These are special forms of probation whereby a defendant essentially works off his or her conviction by successfully fulfilling the requirement set by the court such as fines, community service, anti-theft classes and staying out of trouble. At the end of the case the matter can be dismissed.
If, of course, your wife would rather fight the case and go to trial
(maximum risk would be a year of jail) she will still need a lawyer since she would really not be likely to win this without one. If it is impossible for you to afford a lawyer for her, on her first court date she should plead not guilty at her arraignment to keep all of her rights open and then ask the court to appoint her a public defender.