I took some merchandise from a store in trussville al and returned it. However the store issued a warrant for my arrest. This was in 2008. In 2010 I was stopped for speeding in lee county and the officer ran my license and told me about warrant. I have never been in any kind of trouble before and I am 66 years old. What do I do and what do you think could happen. Merchandise under $100.00.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Theft of property valued at under $100 is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in the county jail. In some city courts, the maximum sentence is up to 6 months. However, you may have several options available for defending against the case.
First, if this happened in 2008 and there was no effort to prosecute the case in a timely manner, then you may be able to obtain a dismissal of the charges on the grounds that you have been denied the right to a speedy trial. Whether or not you qualify for that defense will depend on the specific facts of your case, but based on your post it certainly seems like an option that would be available to you. You can see a short version of my article on the subject by clicking here: http://www.alabamalawjournal.com/2008/01/the-right-to-a.html
Additionally, with the passage of so much time, there may not be any witnesses around who could testify against you. The prosecution will be required to bring witnesses to court to testify to what you did that gave rise to the charge, and if those witnesses are unavailable or do not remember what happened then you may be able to obtain an acquittal that way.
If you find yourself in the position of trying to negotiate a plea bargain, then you may be offered an agreement for deferred prosecution. Under a deferred prosecution agreement (sometimes called pretrial diversion, pretrial intervention, or withheld adjudication), you stipulate to being guilty of the offense but the judge does not actually enter an order finding you guilty. Instead, if you stay out of trouble for a specific period of time, then at the end of that time period the charge against you would be dismissed. However, if you obtained a new arrest for a different crime, then you would be brought back to court for sentencing on this one.
If you went to trial and were found guilty, then you would face sentencing in the range listed above. Depending on your history, you may be eligible for probation for all of your sentence or at least most of it. In most shoplifting cases, people receive no jail time or receive 5 to 10 days of jail time, but there are exceptions where people receive more.
In order to defend against this case, you need to see a lawyer right away. You do not want to go to court without a lawyer to protect you. If our office can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact us. Whatever you do, make sure to see an experienced lawyer to discuss whether you can assert the defense of the denial of your right to a speedy trial.
Good luck to you.
William L. Pfeifer, Jr.
Since answering your question earlier this morning, I have posted copies of my articles on the right to a speedy trial to my Avvo profile. To review the articles that are relevant to your situation, visit http://www.avvo.com/search/guides_authored_by_search?professional_id=2793747 and read the articles about the right to a speedy trial. Good luck to you.
William L. Pfeifer, Jr.
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