If you have been accused of or charged with theft, an experienced theft lawyer like Lisa Shapiro Strauss can help you throughout all the phases of your theft case in Houston. From investigation to defense strategies, from court appearances to appeals, a lawyer will guide you through the process and fight for your rights.
Call A Lawyer Before Talking to Anyone
One mistake many people make when accused of a crime is speaking to police without legal representation. DO NOT DO MAKE THIS MISTAKE.
Law enforcement officers may invite you down to the station to have a “friendly” chat before charging you with a crime. You may feel the need to do this to show you aren’t guilty and have the opportunity to explain your side of the story. If you receive such an invitation from the police, know that one of two scenarios is likely playing out:
Scenario 1: The officers investigating the theft already believe you are guilty and believe they have enough evidence to prove it. Whether you tell them “your side” or don’t say a word, they will arrest you. The reason for giving you the chance to talk before being arresting is to get you to commit to your story before having time to think it over or call an attorney. The more you talk, the more a prosecutor has to work with to use against you in court later.
Scenario 2: The officers believe you to be guilty but don’t think they have the evidence to prove it. They’ll ask you for a statement to give you the opportunity to incriminate yourself or accidentally confess to something, even if you didn’t do the crime and aren’t intending your statement to be a confession.
The desire to clear your name is understandable, but speaking with an attorney before making any statement is vital to protecting your future and clearing your name of any accusations against you. It is your right to remain silent, and doing so does not demonstrate guilt.
Remember — if you are charged and taken to trial, the jury will never know that you refused to give a statement. The judge will not know that you asked for a lawyer. Fight the urge to share “your side” of the story, and do the smartest thing you can do: Ask for an attorney!
In line with the “don’t say a word” advice, theft lawyers also strongly recommend that you not give permission … for anything. Police want to search your car? Just say no. They ask to look through your home? Search your pockets? Just say no, you do not give permission to look through ANYTHING without first speaking to your lawyer.
In addition to representing you and advising you in the above situations, your attorney will continue to help you throughout your case.
If you have been charged with theft, the prosecution will work hard to build a solid case against you. It’s important to have an attorney who can conduct an independent investigation on your behalf. This independent investigation serves several purposes:
- Verify and validate the investigation conducted by law enforcement officials: It’s not uncommon for police to identify a suspect then build a case around that person. A defense attorney should review the police investigation, re-interview witnesses, and conduct an assessment of the evidence that was gathered to look for weaknesses in their case.
- Finding new witnesses and evidence: An independent investigation can identify witnesses that have new information and other evidence not uncovered in the police investigation, which could contradict the prosecution’s case. It can also find information that could discredit the prosecution’s witnesses during trial and allow the attorney to strategize on how to handle their testimony during trial.
There are several strategies that can be used in defending a theft case. These strategies should be evaluated and developed after a thorough investigation by an attorney.
Some of these defenses include:
- Lack of intent: A theft charge must prove that the person accused of theft intended to take someone else’s property without their consent. If the accused had no such intent, this can be a successful defense strategy.
- Mistake of fact: This strategy focuses on the idea that property was thought to have been stolen, but in fact was not actually stolen.
- Age: While being a minor is not necessarily a complete defense, it may achieve a lesser penalty.
- Duress: This defense would be used if the accused was coerced to commit a crime as the result of violence, the threat of violence or other pressure against him. An example of this can often be seen in movies and crime shows — think of a bank teller whose family is kidnapped and will be freed if she helps the kidnappers access the bank vault.
When you come to Lisa Shapiro Strauss about your theft case in Houston, she will formulate a strategic defense based on the exact circumstances of your case, drawing on not only her years as a defense attorney but also on her experience as a former prosecutor.
When you have a court date for your theft charge, the importance of having an experienced criminal attorney by your side cannot be stressed enough.
At your first court appearance, your attorney will meet with the prosecution and discuss the case. During this time, the prosecutor will typically share with your defense lawyer the police reports, video evidence and witness statements in your case and offer sentencing recommendations on the contingency that you plead guilty before going to trial. This is known as plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining often means the prosecution offers a reduced sentence in order to secure a conviction without the process of a trial. If you are attending a court hearing without the benefit of an attorney, this offer of a reduced sentence may sound appealing. Like most things in life, these offers aren’t always as great as they seem when you consider the “fine print.”
For example, you should know that the prosecution offers these “great deals” not out of caring for your situation, but because they are not confident that the evidence against you will guarantee a win at trial. However, once you plead guilty, it is next to impossible to overturn the plea deal you’ve made.
When you are attending a court hearing alone, there is no one to whom you can turn for advice. The judge cannot advise you, and the prosecution is not your friend or ally. The plea deal being offered may be the best option for your circumstances, but the person best equipped and best qualified to give you that advice is a criminal defense attorney whose only job is to represent YOUR interests.
The penalties for a theft conviction can be very serious and affect the rest of your life. If you’ve been accused of or charged with theft, contact Lisa Shapiro Strauss today to get help with a theft case in Houston.