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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 32566
Experience:  Numerous criminal trials ranging from traffic to murder, practicing Criminal Law for 20+ years.
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Hello, I have a question regarding a criminal case I been

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Hello,

I have a question regarding a criminal case I been charged in. The case is for 1 count of 3rd Degree (felony) burglary. The reason I was charged is because I pawned some stolen coins (which I purchased from a friend), and somehow the police found out about it and charged me with burglary.

The date of the alleged burglary was Dec. 21st, 2012. I did not receive the indictment nor was I aware this was an issue until the beginning of June (nearly 6 months later), when I was arrested. The burglary occurred in a county nearly an hour and a half away, in which I've never been. Still, it is hard for me to prove that I wasn't there or anywhere near there since it happened so long ago and I have no idea what I was doing that day, not to mention being able to prove where I was and what I was doing.

The other evidence they have is that I was off work that day (due to my job encouraging it for the Christmas holiday), and I have similar priors from when I was a juvenile that were bound over to adult court. Those offenses were committed 13-14 years ago and I have had none since. The guy who runs the pawn shop is apparently willing to testify that I pawned the coins (which I did), and that it was on the same day of the burglary (which I dispute---there are no receipts of the transaction). My friend called me asking me to buy them after hours because the pawn shop was closed and he needed money (he has a drug problem). So, although I don't remember the exact date I pawned them, I imagine it had to be at least the day after.

It seems that in Ohio, proving "recent" possession of stolen items, even without sufficient evidence to prove how one obtained those items, is enough to support the charge of burglary. Is this true? I have an attorney (one I paid for, not a public defender or court appointed), and he is trying to work out a plea with the prosecution. He says he wouldn't advise taking it to trial, being that the judge will likely max out my sentence if I'm convicted (the judge apparently looks down on people from other areas coming into his county and causing trouble). The last time I talked to him he said I might have to do 2 years with the possibility of an early release. The most they could give me in Ohio for a 3rd degree felony is 5 years. This seems excessive to me, especially for a circumstantial case that doesn't even put me at the scene of burglary or even near it.

My question is: do you think I should consult with another attorney or does this sound reasonable to you? I know the law is complex, and I certainly don't claim to understand much of it, but it seems the attorney should be shooting for a better deal than that, at least to me. My final pre-trial is in 4 days, so I don't have much time to decide what to do. Retaining another attorney would be expensive and delay things even more, so I don't want to do it if s/he will simply tell me the same thing.
Hello and thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am an expert here and I look forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

Your questions were:
It seems that in Ohio, proving "recent" possession of stolen items, even without sufficient evidence to prove how one obtained those items, is enough to support the charge of burglary. Is this true?

That's true in all the states. It is sufficient to charge but in the face of a vigorous defense it might not be sufficient to convict.

do you think I should consult with another attorney or does this sound reasonable to you?

If they are offering a plea of 2 years that is not an unreasonable plea offer. If the pawn broker is going to testify you pawned them the same day as the burglary then a jury is going to lean toward a conviction. They may lean toward it anyway since the time you pawned them is so close to when the burglary occurred.

In this case, to properly defend yourself you would have to "prove a negative" which is almost impossible to do. You may be able to produce evidence of where you were if you have a cell phone and can get the records of what towers it was hitting that day, that can be used to establish the location of the phone at or near when the burglary is supposed to have occurred.

Of course, if your friend will testify he sold them to you that would help immensely, but we both know he isn't likely to do that since he is probably the one who stole them.

The prosecution is also going to have to prove that the coins that were pawned are the same ones that were stolen. That could be hard to prove, depending on what type they were and how they are identifying them.

However, you do stand a bit of a risk and the plea bargain offer isn't an unreasonable one.
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