Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
To whom it may concern, A friend of mine recently was convicted of having supposedly “received stolen goods” at his pawn shop business in June of 2009. On August of 2010, the trial court jury found him guilty on one count of receiving stolen goods and not guilty on the other count charging the same offense. However, I would like to first explain in detail what happened that day. My friend first opened the pawn shop in August of 2008. Approximately 10 months afterwards, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department sent an undercover officer who worked in the Criminal Investigations Bureau. The officer in question was not in uniform but was dressed in ordinary clothing like any other customer; he brought two tools with him that he clearly stated that he wanted to sell. My friend purchased one of the officer’s two tools and following the due process outlined in the law regarding the procedures pawn shops must undergo when purchasing used items; he recorded the valid driver’s license number, home address and phone number. My friend also recorded all the necessary information as well as the tool’s serial number and model number as he has always done for every single item that he has purchased from customers. My friend even took the officer’s index fingerprint and signature warranting that the item in question belonged to him. A little more background about my friend, he is not as fluent in English as he would like to be as English is his second language. However, his English is not lacking in any aspects when running a day-to-day business. Nevertheless, my friend was not able to understand what this officer was saying as he was virtually muttering all his words while utilizing slang instead of common vernacular. If the officer had said to my friend, “I stole these items from someone else, would you like to purchase this?” then my friend definitely would not have purchased any of his items. As it is displayed on multiple CCTV cameras installed all throughout my friend’s store and on the video recorded from the transaction on the date in question, my friend was busy with taking and recording the officer’s information and he was not able to completely hear all that the officer was saying. My friend did not know or notice that this officer was trying to engage in negligent and irresponsible trading and he also conducted this entire interaction in front of multiple video surveillance devices. His surveillance cameras are always recording as obligated by law and also in case he could be of assistance in any ongoing investigations by the police. My friend did not receive a warning or notification prior to this officer coming to his business. In the by-laws set forth in North Carolina, if the value of the received item is less than one thousand dollars ($1000), then being charged with receiving stolen property should have resulted in a punishment of a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The sentence he received from the judge is 20 days in jail along with monetary obligations of $1503.50, 200 hours of community service within 150 days and supervised probation for 28 months. Unfortunately, his appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court was recently denied and he is currently waiting to meet his probation officer in order to serve his sentence. I would like to know what can be done to help out my friend. My friend is willing to do whatever it takes to get this charge overturned. In addition, do you believe my friend can issue a counterclaim? From what I have described above, it was as if the officer was out to get my friend and being convicted for a felony seems too harsh for a typical misdemeanor charge. Any advice or suggestions to help out my friend will be much appreciated. Furthermore, what are some ways my friend could find a good lawyer because the one he had was extremely unprofessional and completely neglected the case? Thank you!
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