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Barry Boches & Associates

What Are Top Misconceptions About Being Charged With A Theft Crime?


A lot of people are surprised to find out that any amount of theft is a jailable offense and that a second theft charge involving any amount is a felony. It’s a misdemeanor if someone stole a pack of gum this year, whereas it would be a felony if they stole a pack of gum again the following year.

Can An Accomplice To The Theft Also Be Charged?

I think some people are either unaware or don’t give much thought to being with someone who was shoplifting when they knew they were there to shoplift. Even if they weren’t doing the shoplifting themselves, if they knew the person they were with was about to do that, chances are they will also be charged because they will also be held accountable; the classic accountability is someone acting as a look out; both parties will be charged, even if they were just sitting there and keeping an eye out for the store’s security while their friend was lining his pockets and they both walked out together.

The person can’t just sit there and play dumb and say they knew what their friend was up to, but they had nothing to do with it. It depends on whether they saw their friend do it because if they did, they have a legal right to stop them, although if they showed any kind of willing participation in the crime, like driving away knowing their friend had taken things, they have just participated. It’s a misconception that someone can come along for the ride and not be in as much trouble as the person who did it.

Do You Handle Cases Where Someone Took Part, But Had No Idea They Were Committing A Crime?

The person has not committed a crime if they had no idea it was actually a scheme, they had no intent to commit a crime and they were not trying to aid in the planning or the commission of the offense. An innocent person getting sucked into a scheme doesn’t make them guilty of the criminal offense; for someone to be held accountable for any crime, there has to be a requisite mental state in which the person was either doing it intentionally or they were doing it knowing that a crime was going to happen.

They won’t punish people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, although someone who was doing it on purpose to get people in trouble or take their money, will be held accountable for their actions, but not for something they did by mistake unless it can be shown it was not a mistake, like someone trying to claim they did not know what was going on when their kids were taking garbage bags full of stuff out of a grocery store and watched as they loaded up in the car.

Is it An Admission Of Guilt If Someone Signed A Civil Demand Letter?

Yes, I think it can be seen as an admission of guilt; it’s a hearsay statement and any statement the defendant made could be used against them, so the person should never sign anything like that with a criminal case pending. Anything that went against their penal interest would come in as hearsay anyway, even if the person was not a defendant. The defendant may just want to get them off their back so they may want to send them some money, although I think they should be able to do that without signing anything.

The fact that someone is trying to pay restitution or the civil demand would not necessarily inculpate them or show the person was guilty. If they had to sign something that stated they had done the crime so they were giving some money, they have just made an admission that will certainly be used against them in court and the statement can also be used to impeach their testimony. The courts want people to make restitution and the fact that someone was trying to make restitution before a plea had been entered would not necessarily be used against them to show their intent to steal.

Should Someone Throw Themselves At The Mercy Of The Court If They Were Caught Shoplifting?

Such a person will need a lot of luck to do that; they just have to hope to get a judge having a good day. If they got a judge on a bad day and there were newspaper reporters barking at the judge and saying he was not harsh enough, it is most likely the person who throws himself on the mercy of the court will be made an example and thrown in jail. No one should throw themselves at the mercy of the court because the judge may very well just give them probation, or a terms of the conditions of probation or conditional discharge with supervision that they would never get if it had not been properly negotiated by a competent attorney.

Someone who threw himself on the mercy of the court Is just rolling the dice and they won’t know what kind of situation they may find themselves in.

For more information on Misconceptions About Theft Charges, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (847) 244-4636 today.

Barry Boches, Esq.

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