Regarding direct consequences, theft crime charges often don’t seem serious. Prosecutors, who often see retail theft as a civil matter, rarely aggressively pursue these matters. However, indirect consequences are different.
Theft is a crime involving moral turpitude. For example, a CIMT conviction usually has immigration consequences. Such a conviction often also means ineligibility for a professional license, like a law or medical license. Social and other employment consequences are informal but just as real.
Theft crime charges adversely impact your life long after probation, and any other direct penalties are forgotten. Somewhat similarly, the criminal justice process is usually very long. An experienced criminal defense attorney doesn’t swoop in at the last moment to save the day. Instead, an attorney works hard for months to obtain a successful outcome in a theft case.
Legal advocacy begins before a theft case goes to court. Immediate jail release (or bail) sets the stage for a successful defense.
In Monroe County, OR (own recognizance), the release is usually available if the defendant faces nonviolent criminal charges and has an otherwise clean police record. The phrase “own recognizance” is a bit deceptive. These defendants must still follow some rules. But for the most part, defendants police themselves until their cases are resolved.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys informally advocate for defendants at this stage. For example, if Ben has a five-year-old drug possession conviction, the local Pretrial Release Board immediately puts his application in the “no” pile. An attorney often convinces the Board to put Ben’s application in the “maybe” pile.
Furthermore, the wheels of justice turn very slowly at this stage. Many defendants wait several days for PRB approval. An experienced criminal defense attorney works the system and hastens the approval process.
Most criminal defense lawyers don’t have these skills. For example, instead of taking a few cases on the side, a lawyer must be dedicated to criminal law. Only lawyers with this level of commitment know inside pathways and know how to build a defense. More on that below.
Incarcerated persons are in no position to look for attorneys. If you do that looking now, you’ll have an experienced theft crime lawyer with knowledge of criminal defense in your shopping cart when and if that lawyer is needed.
Theft Crime Defense Strategies
The criminal defense process begins in earnest once the defendant is out of jail. Procedural and substantive defenses are usually available in theft cases.
Mall cops and other private security officers have broad interrogation powers. But police interrogation powers are much more limited. If police officers ask Ben any questions, even something innocuous like “Why did you come to Macy’s today,” without informing Ben of his Constitutional rights, the judge could exclude any evidence, including a confession, that police officers subsequently obtain.
Substantive defenses, mainly a lack of evidence, are even more effective in theft crime cases. Usually, a qualified witness, typically a mall cop, must appear in court and testify that the defendant took property s/he didn’t own. This witness must be convincing enough to sway jurors.
For this reason, an experienced theft crime lawyer often delays the case as long as possible. The private security turnover rate is about 300 percent. So, the prosecutor’s key witness is usually long gone after six or eight months.
Additionally, as mentioned, the witness must provide compelling testimony. Unlike police officers, mall cops aren’t professional witnesses. Many of these individuals have never testified in court before. If an attorney slightly erodes the witness’ credibility, the state probably won’t have enough proof to establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.
Resolving the Case With an Experienced Theft Crime Lawyer
Theft cases are very labor intensive. Prosecutors cannot simply pick up the phone and get a witness into court. They must locate the security guard or other witness, interview the person, coach the witness, subpoena the witness, and hope s/he appears.
Many prosecutors would much rather offer pretrial diversion than put forth all this effort. That’s especially true if the owner didn’t lose the property, insurance covered the loss, or the defendant voluntarily paid restitution.
Pretrial diversion programs vary in different courts. Usually, if the defendant stays out of trouble for a few months and jumps through some hoops, such as performing community service, prosecutors dismiss the case. A dismissal means no conviction record.
Everything works together in criminal defense. Prosecutors are likelier to offer pretrial diversion if an attorney has successfully delayed the case or built a solid defense.
Theft convictions have long-term, serious consequences. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with an experienced Rochester traffic violation attorney. Convenient payment plans are available.