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Guru_Guy
Guru_Guy, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 2418
Experience:  Attorney trained in criminal law matters, and many years of advising on such matters..
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My nephew (19 years old) was confronted by his boss at ...

Customer Question

My nephew (19 years old) was confronted by his boss at Sears Automotive (seattle) for stealing 40 dollars from the register. He confessed (no police) and his boss had him empty his wallet and took the 20 dollars he had on his person. My nephew assured them it was the only time he had stolen. He apologized and signed a paper saying he understood he was terminated. At that point they called his supervisor in and accused him of stealing as well. The supervisor fled on foot. Sears called the police and since the boss was long gone on foot, they arrested my nephew. There has been no attempt to pursue or arrest the supervisor.   My nephew received a court date by mail He appeared in court today. The judge would not allow him to plead guilty stating that would result in jail time and a 10k fine.   He pled not guilty. He cannot afford a lawyer, and will lose his new job in California and be unable to enroll in school in Los Angeles if he remains for court dates. What are his options?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Guru_Guy replied 8 years ago.
Hello,

Your nephew definitely needs an attorney to represent him. If he cannot afford and attorney the State is obligated to provide him with a public defender. I am surprised the judge did not assign a public defender at the arraignment.

Once he has representation, he may be able to work out a plea agreement with the court to avoid trial. But even if he can do that, he is likely at least to be subject to probation which will prevent him from leaving the State. It is possible an attorney might be able to get the charges dropped, but that is not the likely outcome. The prosecutor would have to drop the charges, not Sears.

But clearly, this boy needs a criminal defense attorney who can fully evaluate the case and discuss a plea bargain strategy. I know attorneys can be expensive, but the costs of facing a full penalty for this crime would be much higher.

My recommendation would be to hire a private attorney, but if that is completely out of the question, he should contact the public defender's office and see if he can get free representation.

I hope this answers your question.

__________________

Please keep in mind that information in this forum is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and does not constitute creation of an attorney client relationship. Before acting on any such information, you are always advised to consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction who can take the time to review all the facts and laws relevant to your situation.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Guru_Guy's Post: Thanks for you advise. I'd like to add that my nephew has his flight booked and residency established(with me), a job waiting and is applying for college here in Los Angeles. If he remains for his next hearing and is given probation, will he have to stay in Washington? Lose the job? Not attend school here? I find this to be a little much over 20 dollars, but I want to do the right thing for his future. Would a letter to the judge help? Could I submit it before his next court date? I am fearful that if his job, school and move to california is taken from him, he is going to flee. He is already getting phone calls from his former boss, calling him a fool for sticking around and getting arrested, which has my nephew feeling like he took the fall and he is angry. The supervisor that fled on foot, was not pursued and now works at another auto supply company. If I wrote a letter to the court explaining what happened, is there a chance my nephew will be able to come to California?
Expert:  Guru_Guy replied 8 years ago.
It does not sound like you are taking this case very seriously. Many times petty thefts such as this are not pursued. But the fact that he has been arrested and arraigned means that this case is going forward.

If he decides to flee the State and avoid trial, that would be a felony and a bench warrant would be issued for his arrest. Granted, he is not exactly public enemy #1. It is likely no one would come looking for him. But these warrants stay open forever. He could get pulled over for speeding one day and find himself being taken to jail facing even worse charges.

I am virtually certain that a letter to the judge would not work. Any solution to dismiss the case must go through a legitimate process involving the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor might be willing to dismiss this case. That really depends on many different factors. But the prosecutor is not going to plea bargain with an unrepresented defendant. The first step he must take is to get legal representation to help resolve this.

__________________

Please keep in mind that information in this forum is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and does not constitute creation of an attorney client relationship. Before acting on any such information, you are always advised to consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction who can take the time to review all the facts and laws relevant to your situation.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Guru_Guy's Post: Thanks again for advice... One last thing...I am taking this very seriously as is my nephew's father. I am just concerned that my nephew may not understand the long term ramifications. All he knows now is he is set up to leave for Los Angeles in a week. I've advised him to speak to a family friend who is a former DA in Seattle to at least get a referral for a good attorney. I have also advised him to take his flight to Los Angeles next week... get a paycheck, change his drivers license to California, and enroll in classes. His father is also moving this month, so by his court date in mid July, he will have no family locally and I am hoping that the court will not require him to remain in Washington, homeless without a job. He will fly up to Seattle for his next court date and see what happens. In your expert opinion, and if the prosecutors office does not drop charges, will he likely be forced to stay in Washington State for his probation period?
Expert:  Guru_Guy replied 8 years ago.
I am glad to hear he is looking for an attorney referral. That is the key first step. He may want to make sure he is not violating any bail agreement by leaving the state. As long as he is not, then it would be fine to go to California, as long as he returns for the trial.

For such a minor crime, it is quite possible that the court penalty, or a plea agreement can be worked out for him. It could mean paying a substantial fine, perhaps a few hours of community service, that could allow him to move on with his life in California.

However, probation or even jail could remain possibilities (although jail would be highly unlikely for a first offense of this kind). In the end, this really is a rather minor case, one for which the court and prosecutors probably will not want to waste a trial. Therefore, a good defense attorney should be able to work out a plea bargain that does not involve probation.

However, keep in mind that this is must my speculation based on experience, and limited understanding of the facts of this situation.

__________________

Please keep in mind that information in this forum is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and does not constitute creation of an attorney client relationship. Before acting on any such information, you are always advised to consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction who can take the time to review all the facts and laws relevant to your situation.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
thanks for all your advice :)
Expert:  Guru_Guy replied 8 years ago.
Glad to help. Best of luck with the case.