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Roger
Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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We have a burglar alarm in our house that was activated when

Customer Question

We have a burglar alarm in our house that was activated when we were not at home. The alarm company called and asked if we wanted the local police summoned to the house. When the alarm monitoring company told us that the alarm sensor on the front door had been activated, we were concerned as we've never had an issue (false alarm) with that sensor. We asked to have the local police dispatched. They arrived, inspected the premises and found no sign of entry. Two weeks late I received a summons to appear in court to respond to the charge that my residence had produced a "false alarm". When I arrived at court on the date specified, I very deferentially and politely explained to the local prosecutor that we had requested a police dispatch as it is possible that someone tried to "force" our front door open and that there had been several reported burglaries in our town in the weeks proceeding the incident. (Note: We had one prior alarm activation almost ten months prior that was attributed to a faulty alarm sensor that was subsequently repaired.) The prosecutor responded by telling me to "tell it to the judge". I appeared before the judge a few minutes later who, when I tried to politely explain my point of view, immediately and firmly dismissed my statement and told me that I would have to request a trial to fully explain my version of events. A trial has been ordered for mid-April. What evidence can I introduce at this trial? For example, can I present an affidavit from the alarm company about the course of events that day? Can I produce neighbors who were present during the incident? Would any of this matter- should I just plead guilty and pay their fine and call it a day? This incident seems a bit heavy-handed to me, especially the demand that I appear personally at the court to make a pleading (I was not given the option to mail in payment of a fine). At no time did I attempt to antagonize the prosecutor or the court. That's not my style.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Roger replied 11 months ago.

Hi - my name is ***** ***** I'll be glad to assist.

Affidavits --- such as from the alarm company --- are not admissible at trial as testimony because they're not subject to cross examination, meaning that the prosecutor cannot ask questions of the person who made the affidavit if they're not present in court. Thus, a statement from the alarm company isn't likely to be admissible.

However, if you have a report of the incident/call that shows you were contacted, etc., that should be admissible AND you can testify about what you have personal knowledge of. So, that would prove that you were contacted by the alarm company and told that there was a potential break in --- and not that it was just a sensor.

Expert:  Roger replied 11 months ago.

It would be unlikely that you could subpoena someone to appear in person from the alarm company (unless it is local -- in the state) to testify live. If you could, that would certainly help though.

Expert:  Roger replied 11 months ago.

It may be more trouble than it's worth.......depending on the fine.......but it really surprises me that the prosecutor and judge were so perturbed by this in the first place. I'm the prosecutor in my home county, and something like that wouldn't be a big issue in my court unless it had occurred multiple times.

Expert:  Roger replied 11 months ago.

If this matter has been set for trial, and if you don't believe the prosecutor and judge are going to let this go as a simple misunderstanding, then you should definitely try to get a transcript of the phone call to prove that you were alerted and that the alarm company prompted or encouraged you to call the authorities..........Also, you may want to consult a local lawyer in your area to review this and speak with the prosecutor and possibly try to reach a deal to keep this from becoming a bigger issue than it needs to be.

Expert:  Roger replied 11 months ago.

Please let me know if you need anything further. Also, please take time to positively rate our conversation so I may receive credit for assisting. Thanks again.

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