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What Would Help Someone’s Theft Case?

By the time someone sees a lawyer, he has probably already taken steps to hurt his case.

Starting from the very beginning, the person needs to avoid admitting anything and responding to anything if he was caught red-handed. The only things he should give the police is his name, his phone number, and other pedigree information.

The person can hire an attorney as soon as possible after being released. The benefit of hiring an attorney as soon as possible is that the attorney has the ability to investigate things as quickly as possible. He can discuss the facts of the case with the client while it is still fresh in his mind. The attorney obviously then has the ability to go into court with the client and try to work out the best deal as quickly as possible.

For many people, getting something like this over with quickly is important. For other people, however, it’s important to get out of a charge without the criminal conviction. Other people feel that the cost of the attorney or the cost of the representation is the important factor.

However, the cost should be the least important thing when looking at potential lifetime consequences. Therefore, a person must help himself, not say anything to the police, get an attorney, tell the attorney the truth, and do what the attorney advises.

What Would a Theft Charge on a Record Affect in a Person’s Life?

A conviction for a larceny, whether it is a petty larceny or a grand larceny, can have long-lasting consequences for the person.

With regards to employment purposes, anyone with a criminal conviction for a theft charge might have a difficult time getting bonded. Many jobs or employers, particularly someone who deals with money, would receive an insurance company bond to ensure that the company doesn’t lose money because of misappropriation of funds by a certain person.

Insurance companies may not be willing to bond someone with a conviction for a larceny. Therefore, if someone applied for a job for which he must be bonded, then he couldn’t get that job.

Alternately, if the job did not need to be bonded, but it dealt with sensitive or valuable materials, then the person couldn’t get the job. The employer could note which elements of the job someone with a criminal conviction for larceny couldn’t do, thus denying him job.

New York State prohibits employers from discriminating against someone who has a criminal conviction. They cannot deny someone employment solely because of it.

However, the person could be denied the job if the conviction involved something that was an element of the job. Someone who cannot be bonded because of a larceny conviction cannot get a certain job, and any criminal conviction is basically a strike against the person for anything he wanted to do.

It’s almost impossible to prove that the person did not get the job because he had a criminal conviction, especially when 50 other qualified applicants for the job existed. Thus, it’s nearly impossible to prove that employment discrimination occurred.

Every job application and every college application asks whether the person had ever been convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes, then the employer or the school may choose somebody else. The person would never be able to prove he didn’t get what he wanted because of the conviction.

Beyond this, the person would lose some civil liberties if this were a felony larceny conviction. Someone with a felony conviction is unable to get a pistol permit, become a notary public, or become an executor to someone’s estate. He’ll lose many other things, as well, that he wouldn’t lose with a misdemeanor conviction.

What Is A Civil Demand Letter In Shoplifting Cases?

This is one of the most frequent questions asked by clients who are caught shoplifting at a departmental store.

In New York State, like most states these days, a civil statute exists that states someone charged with shoplifting may have a civil obligation to the store. Essentially, stores spend a lot of money trying to prevent theft. Therefore, if someone gets caught, the store should be reimbursed with these costs they incurred while trying to halt theft.

The exact amount of money the store could demand from the person depends upon several things, like whether or not the store received the goods back in re-saleable condition. This also depends on the value of the goods.

The amount would be around 3 times the value of the goods, if the store received them back in saleable condition. The amount would be a minimum of $75.

The person charged with the crime would receive the demand letter from an attorney. A few attorney law firms do most of the demand letters in any specific area of New York State. Also, certain department stores hire certain attorneys. The attorney would make the demand, and the person must chose to pay or not pay the demand.

I always advise clients not to pay the demand, because New York State law does not require the defendant to pay the payment after receiving the demand letter. The only thing the store could do is sue the person for the money.

If the theft involved only a couple of hundred dollars, then the store would probably not sue the person because the cost of suing would outweigh the amount they’d receive from the person.

Do Special Programs Or Diversion Programs Exist For First Time Offenders? Does Any Lenience From The Court Exist?

Yes. Obviously, first and foremost, first-time offenders are treated differently than repeat offenders in all instances in court, particularly with petty larcenies.

The provision in the New York state law called an “Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal” basically states that if the person stays out of trouble for the next 6 months, then the charges are dismissed. This applies to someone without prior criminal history.

Therefore, if the person has not been arrested for anything before, then no matter his age, his attorney is probably able to work out an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal for them.

The next step up involves someone who might have some sort of criminal background. As such, the district attorney’s office and the prosecutor are not willing to give the person an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.

The attorney is frequently able to negotiate down a plea to a non-misdemeanor charge. In this case, the person doesn’t have to have a permanent criminal history. Instead, it usually falls under disorderly conduct.

Disorderly conduct is a violation with the same level of offense as a speeding ticket. It is not a misdemeanor crime. Therefore, the person would not have a criminal record for the rest of his life. His fingerprints would be sealed by the state, along with the court file.

Frequently, this is afforded to someone based on his age, his specific background history, and the fact that the person isn’t a repeat offender. For example, perhaps he committed something now, in his 40s, and also committed something way back, in his 20s. This type of person can often receive a reduced sentence.

Someone who does not have a criminal history almost always has an opportunity to get rid of his case, receiving something less than what he was charged with.

The maximum charge, the “As offer” plea, is basically reserved for someone who has a criminal history. However, based on the nature of the criminal history and the charge, the actual sentence can vary greatly.

It could vary from a conditional discharge, which means the person must stay out of trouble for one year. This could go up to one year in jail if the person has just a misdemeanor or a petty larceny charge.

As the person commits more and more crimes, be they petty larcenies or other crimes, the penalties become more severe. The actual resolution of the case changes.

What Should People Know About Theft Charges?

Just like any criminal charge, no matter how small the theft charge may be, it is a criminal charge with potentially dire lifetime consequences.

Like any other criminal charge, this is something that must be taken seriously. It is, in fact, serious, whether it was a $5 theft, a $50 theft, or a $500 theft.

Also, no one on the prosecution side, the security guard, or the police officer is the person’s friend. He shouldn’t tell anyone anything about the charge. He must get a good lawyer.

What Are Some Qualities To Look For In An Attorney For A Theft Charge?

Like any criminal charge, the person should look for an attorney with a lot of experience in criminal defense work. He should be someone with experience in the area in which the charges are pending.

This is important because the attorney knows the courts, the judges, and the prosecutors. He can give the best possible advice.

The defendant should use this attorney because the attorney can tell the person legitimately what charges he’s looking at, based upon his experience in this type of case.

Someone who didn’t know a lawyer should ask around. Of course, many people will be embarrassed to discuss their charge with other people.

Thusly, the best way to find a good lawyer is through word of mouth. Clients discuss good lawyers who achieved good results for them, just like they discuss bad lawyers to avoid.

For more information on Hiring An Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you're seeking by calling (914)788-4126 today.


Malia Law, LLC located in Cortlandt Manor, NY represents Landlords/Tenants throughout Westchester County, Putnam County and Southern Dutchess County, NY.



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