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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33803
Experience:  15 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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My daughter-in-law went to 's club and took a person that

Customer Question

My daughter-in-law went to Sam's club and took a person that she thought was her friend(older woman), in with her and the woman stole items without her realizing it, and because it was under her membership she is now serving a 60 day house arrest sentence, 40 hours of community service plus fines and restitution paid. They did not go after the said friend at all. The problem also is that she was blind sided by this whole thing when she was stopped for speeding and taken straight to jail...she never received a citation at all and was never contacted about having to appear in court for the charge...in fact she was in the store many times after said crime and even upped her membership to a higher level and they said nothing to her at the time.. we feel that her attorney railroaded her into agreeing to a plea instead of fighting for her. She did not do the crime. She was never stopped outside the store with the merchandise...she doesn't have the merchandise! He told her that the surveillance footage showed probable cause but told her that it would be less money to just plea no contest and let him make a deal with them for the punishment because they wanted to give her 160 days in jail...what the heck! she didn't steal any thing? Why was she never issued a citation. Why did she never receive a notification to appear in court? Why did they let her up her membership? The crime was according to the docket 11/4/2015 and said citation was issued?? arrest warrant issued on 12/4/2015 and then according to the docket she failed to appear in court on 1/29/2016. She didn't appear because she had no idea anything was going on! She went an renewed her drivers license the beginning of March and they said nothing about the warrant then?? shouldn't it have shown up then? I really feel like Sam's club should have stopped them at the door or at the register...isn't that why they check your receipt to your cart items before you leave? She doesn't have the stolen merchandise! Why did she have to plea no contest when she did not do the crime. Her attorney said if she didn't take the plea then they would go back and look for more surveillance of her in the store with said (friend) and the charges would be higher. She was scarred and we feel like the attorney played on that. Of course he reminder her that his fee was of course x amount an hour. Now she just sits and cries, she cannot leave the house except to go to work and back. She has this huge 5lb weight attached to her leg. This is all just a bad dream. Is there anything that can be done to help us out?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 5 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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I used to be a Public Defender long ago and it would often happen this way.....someone who was genuinely innocent would just plead guilty to a small charge to get out of jail or to get the case over so they can put it behind them and get on with their lives.

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With that said, I am not paying the devil's advocate here, but if you weren't with the attorney throughout this, you really don't know what the evidence was against her. You know whatever she has told you, and that may or may not contain all the facts of the situation. They could have had video surveillance that shows something being concealed by both of them and then they don't have the specific footage of them leaving the store. They found out the item was missing, reviewed the security footage, saw them, and then got the police involved. That would explain the probable cause comment you were told. Whose membership it is is irrelevant, it would be the security footage that would indicate who was involved in the theft. So they might have identified her through her membership photo, but that has nothing to do with who was charged for the offense.

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But in the end, it was daughter's decision about whether to plead no contest, which is a plea that says "I am not saying I did it, but I realize that a jury could see the evidence and find me guilty". She could have adamantly refused to plead to anything and take it on to trial. She could have been acquitted or she could have been found guilty and received an actual jail sentence of a year if it was a misdemeanor, or longer, depending on the value of the missing items.

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So in the big picture getting home incarceration is the next step up from being just put on probation.

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But to answer your question about whether anything can be done now, if she has already been serving the sentence, then her only recourse would be to file for a writ of habeas corpus which is her asking to be released for a wrongful conviction. But she would need an attorney, and they are expensive, and she pled in open court with the judge asking her if she understood her situation and whether she was pleading "intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily" and she would have answered "Yes". So this makes it kind of unlikely that the judge would grant the motion since she would have acknowledged that she understood and accepted the consequences.

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With all that said, if this is her first criminal offense ever, she may be eligible to have the offense sealed after it is all over which means that it wouldn't appear in the public record and would only be visible to law enforcement.

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thanks

Barrister

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