How Public Will My Theft Charge Be?
That depends; all the court cases are public record, so if people look you up, they will find you. Another thing you risk is, if there happens to be a court reporter in the bond court, or someone from the local newspaper is just updating the police blotter to see who is arrested that night, you can be discovered that way. If that happens, there is a fair possibility it will wind up in the paper somewhere and it certainly will be discoverable if someone checks the public record.
Whether or not your employer finds out will likely depend on the magnitude of your theft. If you’re stealing $100,000, it’ll have a place in the newspaper, but if you stole a stick of gum at Wal-Mart, I doubt anyone will notice. In most cases, it probably won’t make its way to any papers and your boss won’t find out, but obviously this is negative information you don’t want anybody to share in your lifetime, so you want to avoid that.
What is the Difference Between Bench or Jury Trials or Plea Bargains in Theft Cases?
A bench trial refers to a trial in which the judge is the decider of guilt, whereas a jury trial means your fate will be decided by 12 people who are supposed to be your peers, which is kind of a joke because no one wants to be on jury duty and sit for $5 a day; you end up with a jury full of people without jobs or who have nothing better to do. In a jury trial, those 12 people have to unanimously decide your guilt or innocence.
A plea bargain happens when you negotiate with the prosecutor before to trial, which you want to avoid because it leaves the judge with the discretion as to what to do with you. If you steal a stick of gum from Wal-Mart, you face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, which means if you just happen to get a judge having a really bad day at home and he’s had it with shoplifters, he may just give you some time in jail, whereas it can be plea bargained for something that may save you a conviction and mean lesser penalties.
You never want to play the bird in the hand versus two in the bush game and grab the two in the bush because you just don’t know what you’re grabbing; you always want to take the sure thing if it’s something you can live with and feel is appropriate given the facts of your case. Maybe you’re not guilty of what they charge you with, maybe it’s a very so-so case, maybe it’s a try-able case, but you always have to weigh those things when deciding if it’s worth going to trial. On top of that, you’ll probably be charged more by your attorney because a trial it takes more time.
With a bench trial, you’re just in front of the judge, which takes much less time than a jury trial, because you don’t have to go through jury selection, opening and closing arguments or jury instructions. You also don’t have to deal with all kinds of motions that keep things out of the presence of the jury, all of which take more time and cost more money.
Can Kleptomania Be Used as a Viable Defense in a Shoplifting Case?
Absolutely not; that’s just an excuse, I’ve never met anyone diagnosed as a kleptomaniac and I don’t even think there is a psychological definition that applies to that; it’s just jargon for saying someone steals a lot, but it’s not an addictive personality disorder that will serve as any kind of justification that would give you leverage with the court. In fact, if you’re truly a kleptomaniac, you’ll have a few charges already, and the next arrest will be a felony, be it a stick of gum or anything else. Those things add up and start haunting you real quickly if you keep going down that road.
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