Monday morning, Wharton junior Tania Chairez officially received the news that her case would be dropped by the District Attorney’s office.
Chairez, who was arrested and charged with obstruction of traffic and disorderly conduct in March, will have to do 18 hours of community service and pay a fine of $200.50 as a part of the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program.
Originally she was to face a full trial with a jury on Sept. 17. However on Sept. 14, her lawyers, who have been in communication with the DA’s office throughout the year, told Chairez that she would not be going to trial.
“To make a long story short, the DA’s office is going to basically drop the charges in exchange for a little bit of community service,” said Lawrence Krasner, an attorney at Krasner, Hughes and Long who represented Chairez. “This is to their credit.”
Krasner said the DA ultimately agreed that the women arrested didn’t deserve heavy punishment.
Chairez was initially arrested on March 14 along with Jessica Hyejin Lee, another undocumented student and a senior at Bryn Mawr College. The pair declined to enroll in AMP in March, saying then that they didn’t want to take the easy way out. Chairez said she will enroll in the program now because her case had attracted too much attention and is distracting from her message.
“The deal is I think I already made my point. This far down the line I already talked to the people I needed to talk to,” Chairez said, adding that people were more worried about her trial than anything else.
“I didn’t want this to be about me,” she said.
The full details of her sentence have not yet been designated. Chairez does not know what the exact deadline for her community service will be or what type of work she will have to do. She will have to go to court again on Oct. 2 to receive the final details.
Chairez is satisfied with the way her case has proceeded.
“I wasn’t just randomly getting myself arrested. I didn’t just accidentally block the street. I was fully prepared for everything and I knew very well what could have happened,” she said. “I did it because I’m passionate about this. I think it was worth it.”
Chairez, Lee and DreamActivists PA had wanted to prove a point — that being public with one’s undocumented status was safer than most would think.
“The point is that they’ve succeeded in getting their message out and even the DA’s office agreed that their message was of value,” Krasner said.