Interviewer: What are the top misconceptions that people have about stealing charges?
Kevin Roach: The top misconception is that if someone steals something from Wal-Mart or some other department store, that if it's of a really small value that they won't be charged, or they'll be charged with just a lesser offence. The reality of it is, it could be an item that's only worth a dollar or less and you're still charged with a class A misdemeanor. You're charged the same way as if someone had stolen $400 worth of electronics, whatever it may be, you're still charged the same way, you're still charged with a class A misdemeanor. So that's one of the biggest misconceptions. I see people that, maybe someone sitting in my office they say: the shirt I took was only $25, won't they just forget about it? These stores, they have zero tolerance, they even try to recoup their cost for security. They'll send their recoupment letter and you have to pay it. It's usually a couple hundred bucks or less, but they try to recoup their security cost, and then they have a zero tolerance policy, you're charged according to the value, if they can prove that you stole something, then you're going to be charged and there's no way around it.
The Procedure to Handle a Civil Demand Letter or a Recoupment Letter in Missouri
Interviewer: When it comes to civil demand letter, when someone gets that, what's the purpose of that and is that going to help or hinder someone's case?
Kevin Roach: I always advise my clients to pay that because it can go on your credit if you don't pay it and it just makes a bad situation worse. I mean, do you really want that out there for all your creditors to see, that you've been charged with stealing and that you didn't pay the amount that you were supposed to pay, the civil demand or recoupment letter whatever you want to call it? It's making you look even worse, not only are you potentially going to have a stealing charge on your record and face jail time, you could potentially have it on your credit as well and more people would see it, just inflict more damage on yourself. In Missouri you have to pay those and I always show that to the prosecuting attorney, show that the client has taken responsibility and take that in there with them and that usually you can get leniency from the court if you show that they've complied with the civil demand letter.
It is Not Advisable To Try and Talk Your Way Out of any Criminal Charge
Interviewer: The idea that individuals have a tendency to sometimes make your case worse by talking to a police officer or talking to an individual. Is that the same case with theft charges, is that something that people have the tendency to do?
Kevin Roach: That's true with any criminal charge. People have a tendency to try to talk their way out of things, a lot of people do. But a lot of times it's people's natural instinct, they can talk their way out of it but that's really the worst thing you can do. A lot of times make incriminating statements, either denying it or admitting that, a lot of times people admit it they think well, I'm admitting it, it's going to go away. Well that's really the worse thing you can do is talk to the police shortly after you're detained. You do not want to make statements, you always want to ask to see your attorney because making a statement it can always be twisted around. Typically they are just getting your statement just because it makes the police officer's job a lot easier and a lot more tidy. They can say 'we have a signed confession' and they send it over to the prosecuting attorney and it very much guarantees that you're going to be charged. On the other hand if you don't make a statement they may have a lot weaker case than you think they have and you may be able to prevent it from even going forward or you have a lot more leverage negotiating on your case or potentially getting it dismissed down the road if there are no admissions in the police report.
Kevin J. roach is a St. Louis DWI defense attorney who has defended thousands of DWI and DUI cases in the St. Louis Metro area. Call us today at (636) 519-0085 or (866) 519-0085 for your Free Consultation!