Legal Question in Criminal Law in Montana


Two days ago my son (23) was arrested for shoplifting. Has never been in any trouble before and the situation has to potential to affect his reputation and his future.

He went to a local chain grocery store to do some shopping. Immediately inside the store entrance is a sign on a beverage display encouraging shoppers to drink a cold drink while they shop. My son took a $1.79 can and began to drink it as he shopped. He did not have a cart or basket and as he picked up other items he threw the can away with out thinking. he continued to shop and when he finished paying for his groceries, the store manager came up to him and asked him if he had forgotten to pay for anything and he remembered the can he drank, apologized and began to pay for it. the store manager said it was to late for that, detained him and called the police. He was handcuffed, searched, removed by the police and taken to the local detention center. he now has a court date set for this issue. the facts in the case are not in dispute but way this was handled troubles me greatly. what recourse do we have to mitigate any further damage to my son and his reputation?

Asked on 8/09/06, 11:46 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Mark Sullivan Mark R. Sullivan - Attorney at Law

Re: shoplifting

First, he must plead not guilty. Then, he can either hire a lawyer or begin to negotiate with the prosecutor himself. Last option, after the not guilty plea and if negotiations don't result in something he can live with, take it to a trial with a jury. I think a jury might be sympathetic towards your son as eveyone has made a simple mistake at some point in their life. If a jury trial is likely, he'll do better with a lawyer. Good Luck.

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Answered on 8/09/06, 1:33 pm

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