Common Misconceptions Regarding Theft Charges In Alabama

Interviewer: What are, some of the more common misconceptions that people have about theft charges?

Zach Peagler: Just that there’s no defense to them. I mean it kind of rings true in all the cases that we deal with. You know people just typically think that they’ve been caught red-handed and there’s nothing that they can do about it. And especially if you’re dealing with something that on the felony level; you certainly don’t want to go to court and not have at least talked to an attorney and see what your options might be because first of all you don’t want to have felony on your record, you’re not going to be as suitable for employment moving forward. And then even in the misdemeanor theft realm, theft is a crime that employers are going to pay particular attention to.

A Theft Charge Can Seriously Hinder Potential Employment Opportunities

That is just a real sticking point for any business that thinks that they might hire somebody that can steal from them; and it’s just a tough thing to shake when you’re trying to get a job. But there are ways to – even if you’ve been caught on video tape and red-handed and all of that, there’s still ways to come to an agreement that can try to keep it off your record. Then obviously if you’ve got some kind of legitimate defense, you need to have an attorney to help you present that evidence in court; and then also just from the simplicity of making the victim show that the value of what the alleged was taken is really what they say it is. Just because you’re the victim of a theft, doesn’t mean that you’re a savory individual yourself. We get people coming into court as victims that say whatever was taken from them was worth $5,000, when in reality it’s not worth $50. You know, so kind of holding their feet to the fire on what they claim was taken and what it’s really worth can be the difference in a felony and misdemeanor.

Aggravating Factors for a Theft Charge in the State of Alabama

Interviewer: What are some things that usually make someone’s case worse? I guess from the moment they’re arrested to when they’re in the midst of their own case, what usually makes it worse?

Zach Peagler: Just like with any case, committing any other offense while you’re on bond waiting for your case to be dealt with is just about the worst thing you can do. Trying to reach out to the victim in some way; that can make things a lot worse, if it’s not in a controlled environment. Not showing up for court, obviously. And then just like any case I mean if you’re arrested, they’ve already arrested you, you don’t need to make any kind of statement about anything. I mean that’s just playing right in to the prosecution’s hands.

It is Important to Consult with An Attorney Prior to Responding to a Civil Demand Letter

Interviewer: What is a civil demand letter? You know, when someone receives a civil demand letter – I know some that may be able to finance; is that a good idea?

Zach Peagler: No, no. I mean if you’ve got an attorney just make sure they get a copy of it and we typically respond to those letters, to the attorney that writes them, and just tell them that they way the statute’s written in Alabama, this is an either/or thing. So you either try to collect the money civilly or you prosecute them and collect restitution, but you can’t double-dip. So if there’s a criminal matter pending and your client is still trying to prosecute my client, then we’re not paying you and we’re not even going to pay attention to this. So those are real point of contention with me, because I think it’s a lot of lawyers trying to take advantage of people that don’t understand the process. So I know in other states that may be different, but in Alabama the statute is written as an either/or and you’re not supposed to be trying to collect civil monetary payments while you’re also prosecuting the person for the same thing and trying to collect restitution on it.

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