On August 12, 2016 BT, a 42 year old Registered Nurse from Salem, NH, was in TJ Maxx in North Andover, MA and she was stopped by store security and charged with shoplifting. She had gone into the store to return several items and to purchase several other items. While making the purchase two cosmetic items ended up in her bag without having been paid for. The problem for BT was that she was on probation in Peabody District Court for her last shoplifting case and that she had two more older shoplifting cases on her record. In addition to that, she had two additional theft charges on her record from out of state. On August 16, 2016 she appeared in Lawrence District Court for an arraignment and was then told to report to Peabody Court for a probation violation hearing. She went to Peabody Court and the Judge in Peabody Court locked her up for four days. Not wanting to go to jail for the new case in Lawrence District Court BT consulted with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Attorney Lewin, after reviewing the facts, encouraged BT to fight the new charge and go to trial. It seemed to Attorney Lewin that she was not guilty and that the evidence would prove she was not guilty. All of BT’s prior shoplifting cases had been continued without a finding. BT was concerned that a guilty finding would cause her nursing license to be suspended or revoked. It was clear to Attorney Lewin (and to BT) that BT had mental health issues. Attorney Lewin had BT furnish to Attorney Lewin all her mental health records for the last three years. Once Attorney Lewin had the mental health records the picture became very clear. BT had lead a very normal productive life for her first 39 years. She had no criminal record anywhere. She had graduated from college and was a very bright and productive nurse. Then at age 39 she became ill mentally and was diagnosed with manic-depressive syndrome and personality disorder. She was treated with medications and it was during this time that she accumulated no less than six criminal offenses. Following her four day stay at MCI Framingham (the women’s prison) BT determined to never put herself in this position again. She consulted with her doctors and her medication levels were adjusted.
BT told Attorney Lewin that if he could get the case continued without a finding she wanted to plead. Even though Attorney Lewin encouraged BT to go to trial, BT was adamant that she did not want to go to trial but wanted to try to get another continuance without a finding. BT understood that the likelihood of getting a fourth offense continued without a finding was very slim – particularly in light of the fact that BT was on probation for her third offense when this case happened. Attorney Lewin met with the Assistant District Attorney; the DA’s Office was willing to recommend Probation on a plea with a guilty finding.
On October 31, 2016 BT and Attorney Lewin appeared in Lawrence District Court and BT admitted to sufficient facts (similar to a guilty plea). The DA recommended a guilty finding with probation. Attorney Lewin made an impassioned plea to the Judge that BT’s repeated shoplifting was the result of her mental illness and her medications not being properly adjusted. Attorney Lewin pointed out that these issues were being firmly addressed. Attorney Lewin also pointed out that BT had spent 4 days in MCI Framingham and that was a learning experience – to say the least. In the end the Judge adopted Attorney Lewin’s argument and continued the case without a finding. This result avoided a conviction and avoided the Board of Registration in Nursing from taking any action against BT’s nursing license.