Should Someone Be Concerned About Civil Penalties For Shoplifting Charges?
Every criminal resolution doesn’t stop an individual or a company from also seeking a civil remedy against you. In almost every shoplifting case, especially with places like Wal-Mart and Target, they’ll typically institute a civil proceeding to recover losses if they do not recover the property as well. Now, that being said, criminal restitution and a civil judgment can both be ordered, but you’re only going to have to pay once. If you stole $200 from Wal-Mart and they sued you for that $200, and in the criminal case, you were ordered to pay the $200 back and do so, you’ve set aside the civil case.
Likewise, if you have paid in the civil judgment, you set aside the criminal restitution, and the victim can’t double-dip and get twice as much as they’re owed; they can only get what they actually lost. But some victims, who are pursuing a civil judgment, as well as a criminal restitution order, have some sense of satisfaction that somehow, some way they’re going to get their money back. Sometimes the victims find that the civil judgments are more easily enforced than a criminal restitution order. Certain attorneys can be hired to help look at an individual’s assets and try to put liens on property and bank accounts to help satisfy civil judgments, so sometimes that is the reason why, usually in more expensive loss cases, a civil judgment is also sought.
Are Any Alternative Programs Available For First Time Theft Offenders?
With shoplifting and even misdemeanor thefts, sometimes diversion programs are available. In the felony world, it never used to be available. Arizona is experimenting with diversion programs for first time, low-level felonies, like Class VI, Class V and sometimes up to Class IV, geared towards allowing an individual to complete counseling, classes, community service and repayment of restitution in an effort to get the case dismissed, but it is definitely harder in felony cases. They are taken on a case by case basis and would be a very unique and special circumstance for a prosecutor’s office to be willing to extend.
How Does A Theft Charge Impact Someone’s Record In Arizona?
In Arizona, generally, it’s very difficult to have criminal records removed, expunged or hidden. A juvenile record is always sealable after the individual turns 18, so that’s the easiest way. But for an adult, the best option is what’s called Setting Aside a Conviction, where either the judge or the division that sentenced you, after you’ve completed all of your probation and other requirements, review the motion, typically submitted by your attorney, to discuss whether you’ve completed everything and whether you present any further concern to the community. At this point the judge can say, “Hey, you have done everything. I am going to set aside this conviction.”
Essentially, it’s just a notation in the criminal history that says, “You’ve done all this; you’ve put it behind you,” and the judge is willing to say that it’s behind you as well, but it doesn’t erase it from your criminal history or a criminal background check. It doesn’t make it unavailable to the prosecution if you commit a future crime and can still be used against you. At the end of the day, theft and things of that nature are considered what we call crimes of moral turpitude, which fall into a category that can sometimes affect certain types of employment and definitely have an impact here in Arizona on immigration cases as well. Any crimes of bad moral character or moral turpitude can have a lot of collateral consequences for individuals outside of just the criminal punishments.
What Are The Common Defense Strategies Utilized In A Theft Case?
The biggest thing is to try to get an attorney right off the bat and limit the interviews and statements that are going to potentially be made so that whatever excuses or explanations are about to be offered can be considered by an attorney before they are made. A lot of people think that the excuses or the things that they had going on in their head will eliminate the ability to be arrested or charged with the theft, and that’s not always true. Putting all of that on paper and into the record is the thing we want to prevent first.
In dealing with theft charges and dealing with any other criminal charge, a defense attorney will try to find out if the individual has a criminal history, what is the age and the background of the individual and is the perpetrator poor. Of course, none of this is going to necessarily eliminate the ability to be charged or eliminate the criminal intent, but sometimes it helps a defense attorney work with prosecutors towards a non-conviction resolution when the circumstances are unique and are different from a normal crime.
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