What Qualities Should I Look For In An Attorney For A Theft Charge?
You should look for the same thing you look for in any criminal attorney; someone who practices mainly criminal law, not someone who’s doing divorce work and just happens to be doing this; a lot of law is specialized to some degree, and you want someone who’s very familiar with the type of case you have, not just all law in general. It doesn’t matter if you get the best divorce attorney in the world; if he screws up your theft case, you’re done, you don’t get to go back and do it over; you want it done tight the first time.
The more experienced the better and if they’ve spent time on both sides of the fence as a prosecutor and defense attorney, that never hurts; it’s not a prerequisite, but it helps. You want someone familiar with the jurisdiction you’re in, because it helps to know about the judges and prosecutors and their temperaments. If you get someone from out of town, he doesn’t know anyone, so you might think you’re getting a good deal, but the judge blindsides you because the attorney didn’t know them.
Ultimately, you also want to interview a few and make sure you’re comfortable with them because you have a lot riding on this, you’ll be paying this person and you’ll probably never see them again, but if they mess up, you’ll pay for it in more ways than just financially. You have a lot riding on it; you should take time to make sure the person you’re talking with seems knowledgeable and that you’re comfortable with them.
Most of my clients fully appreciate that I see most of them in a t-shirt, that I have tattoos, and that I am a normal person, rather than some stuffed shirt and tie. Yes, I’ll put on my tie and look appropriate where and when I’m supposed to, but when I’m in my office, I want them to be comfortable with me because that’s who I am. I want them to know the experience I have on both sides of the fence, I want them to know I have a great deal of knowledge of what I’m talking about, and that I’ve done a lot of these before.
It probably won’t be beneficial to have an attorney who’s fresh out of law school; that’s scary because that attorney will be learning at your expense. Whoever you decide to hire, you have to be comfortable with them because if they mess up, there are no mulligans in the legal world; you don’t get a second shot. You want things to be done right the first time, so take the time to interview a couple of people, make sure you feel comfortable with them, that they have the experience and that this is their backyard.
Can You Provide Some Examples of Theft Cases That You Have Successfully Defended?
I had a case in which a lady I’ve known my whole life who was a well-to-do person and she was in the Whole Foods and totally wrapped up on a real estate deal she was doing as she pushed the whole cart right out to the parking lot and forgot to pay. As soon as they mentioned it to her, she tried to bring the cart back, but they didn’t let her and they charged her. We got the charges dropped eventually, so I consider that a victory because clearly she’d gone past the last point of purchase but then the question becomes, did she have the requisite intent to deprive someone? It was an honest mistake!
Once in a while you get those but most theft cases are kind of cut and dried these days, because there are video cameras everywhere you go;, and it’s pretty hard to win those. I consider it a win when I had a client who took $17,000 from a high school marching band fund and spent it, and I managed to get her out of that felony where she was looking at a prison and get her a misdemeanor with no jail time. It’s a victory because it didn’t ruin her for the rest of her life.
She made a stupid mistake, she paid restitution and we got it taken care of. It was very important for her not to have a felony because that can affect you if you’re in public housing, it can affect all kinds of things; no one wants a felony on their record.
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