Interviewer: Why would you say it's important to hire an attorney for a theft case? If someone has the option of going to a public defender or they feel like their case isn't big enough, that would only take $20. Why is it important to secure an attorney?
Kevin Roach: Securing an attorney is particularly important in stealing charges because a stealing charge is probably the single most incriminating charge you can have on your record as far as how it affects your employment. You want to do everything you can to protect your livelihood, especially if you're a younger individual, you got your whole life in front of you, your whole employment history is yet to be determined, you don't want to be crippled by having a stealing charge on your record and get denied job after job after job. That could cost you, that's something that is just going to keep costing you throughout your whole life, a lot of times people don't think about is the big picture, down the road, this is going to follow me around the rest of my life.
Once a Guilty Plea is Entered it is Almost Impossible to Escape the Ramifications
So it's money well spent to retain an attorney in order to try to get this cleaned up while you still can because once you plead guilty, there's nothing you can really do to remove it from your record. Just trying to emphasize that. For stealing charges, it may just have been a $20 item you stole, but it still counts the same as if it were a $500 item, or if it was a felony, maybe if you stole something that was a $1,000, it's still charged as a felony, just like if someone stole $25,000. Most people understand it but sometimes people don't really grasp the ramifications down the road, that's where you can really do yourself some good by keeping your record clean.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon During a Theft May Result in Additional Charges Being Imposed
Interviewer: Can someone get into trouble if they carry a weapon with them and they end up stealing something? They don't use the weapon but they just have it with them? Could they still get into trouble?
Kevin Roach: You can get in trouble for having a concealed, if you don't have a conceal and carry permit, or even if you have a conceal and carry permit, most businesses they don't allow you to bring in your gun with you, So yes, you can be charged with unlawful use of a weapon or.. I can't think of the name of the charge.. There can be additional charges if you have a weapon with you, absolutely.
Kleptomania May Not Be Used As a Viable Defense in Missouri
Interviewer: What about the idea of kleptomania? Is that a valid argument for an individual?
Kevin Roach: No, I've never seen that used as a viable defense. I've heard that it is, some people have some sort of psychological disorder, that's why they steal, but I've never seen it used effectively as a defense. Unfortunately, in Missouri I'm not aware of any case law that allows you to use kleptomania as a defense.
An Elderly Individual with Alzheimer’s or Dementia May Commit Accidental Theft
Interviewer: What about when elderly individuals, cases involving elderly individuals. They stole an item and maybe it's due to the fact that they're aging, maybe some sort of dementia or something?
Kevin Roach: No, I haven't seen that personally, that scenario, but I could see potential uses as a defense, because if someone has advanced Alzheimer's or dementia maybe they just pick up something in the store and they forget to pay, I could see where they legitimately do not have the intent, they just don't have the mental capacity to really understand what they're doing. I could see that being used as a defense but I personally haven't seen any cases involving elderly people where that defense would be available to me.
Juvenile Theft Offenses are Handled in Family Court in Missouri
Interviewer: What if I have like a 6 year old son or daughter that stole something? How is that going to be handled? Could I give an attorney a call and say this is what the situation is?
Kevin Roach: Well yes, I see that a lot, where parents call for their 15 or 16 year old. In St. Louis and Missouri you're not going to be charged as an adult unless you're 17 typically, so if you're 15 or 16 it's, normally in St. Louis, it's going to go to the St. Louis family court, it's going to be charged as a juvenile. I do handle those cases, typically they'll make you do a class and make you jump through some hoops and what not, it won't be on your permanent record, that's the good thing about juvenile cases, unless it's a real extreme example you're really normally not in danger of being locked up in juvenile hall or being sent away. Normally it's kids stuff and they have a meeting down at the courthouse and you meet with one of the counselors and they come up with a plan. But a lot of times I see people come in, they're 17 and they don't understand why they're being charged as an adult and that's just dumb. In St. Louis courts they, 17 is the magic age to where if you're arrested for stealing or DUI or whatever it may be, you're treated as an adult.
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!