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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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A local business had license plates stolen from their company

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A local business had license plates stolen from their company van in June of this summer. This is a franchise hardware store (True Value). My boyfriend went into the business to purchase items and was accused of being the thief. Apparently, the tags were recovered and the person caught with the tags claimed the person he had bought them from has the same name as my boyfriend.

Surviellance cameras showed someone with a ponytail. My boyfriend wears his hair in a thinning ponytail. Business owner/manager (??) claimed that video is in police possession.

My boyfriend was accused by type of shoe he was wearing that day in the store. Was told that they were a "dead giveaway" by store manager. Boyfriend had just purchased these shoes that morning at a yard sale in the community!!!

Today, he received mailings from lawyers advertising for his business. He is on probation and was confused. Phoned an attorney friend who says that he is being "summoned" and will need to speak to the County Commissioner. I looked up the court case records and he is being accused of theft under $1000.00.

We are flabbergasted and unsure of any recourse other than to get a notarized statement from yard sale lady proving purchase of used shoes... hire an attorney to prove innocence and hope the chips fall on our side.

He is not a thief!!! He has no idea who this person is who is claiming he received the stolen tags from! We, especially he, shops in this store regularly and I receive dollar-off coupons, birthday and anniversary coupons. He used one on the day of accusation and that is how they must have acquired our residency address to file the complaint of theft.

He was accused in the middle of the store in front of customers and was floored as the manager provided the details of the video and all info I have provided. He was speechless!! Are we able to respond with a complaint of defamation? In the state of Maryland, are we able to receive an award for libel? This is just ridiculous!!

Thank you for any assistance you may offer.
An affidavit from the yard sale lady is the best first step. Because he is on probation, an attorney is also the next thing he needs to do before appearing in court. The attorney will be able to get a look at the video to see if it is even close. Before he has a suit for defamation/slander, he will have to first clear up the summons matter and then he would have to prove the store manager knew he was making a false statement when he did this in the store. IF you can do both of these things, then your boyfriend would have a claim for defamation per se, since he was accused falsely of being a thief. However, one thing at a time, he has to clear up the criminal matter and then he has to show the manager knew he was not the right person when he made these false allegations.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I forgot to state that the person found with the tags had claimed "someone named Lyle", using his first name only. Never was his last name mentioned. Will this bear weight in court? Will the case rest soley on the supposed video? Why would a Commissioner or State's Attorney allow the accusation with such flimsy evidence?

If that is the same first name as your boyfriend AND the video can be identified as your boyfriend it may be at least sufficient probable cause for bringing charges, but then in trial they still have to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt and that depends on the testimony of the witnesses and the rest of the evidence and then your boyfriend has to raise reasonable doubt with his evidence.
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