What can I do if I’m being accused of theft?

I am accussed of taking $400 out of my ex-brother-in-laws house. My fingerprints are the only ones on the envelope that contained the money and a neighbor says she can identify me and saw me in his driveway that day. What happens from here? Am i going to jail? Do I need a criminal law attorney? I’m in Chenango, NY.

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You definitely need a criminal defense attorney. Stealing or theft is a crime; you certainly can go to jail for it, and also get a criminal record which can affect you in many regards (e.g. when a background check for a job is done). Fingerprints and a witness placing you at the home could certainly be enough to charge and convict you. What will happen is impossible to say, since much depends on your prior history (is this a first time offense? are you a "pillar of the community"? if you stole the money, do you at least have a reason that would make a judge or jury sympathetic, like needing it for a sick child?), whether there are any weaknesses in the case (is there a plausible reason for the fingerprints? is the neighbor visually impaired or a heavy drinker or known to dislike an you, so her identification of you can be challenged), and other factors specific to your case. Getting experienced criminal defense attorney maximizes your chance of, ideally, having the case dismissed or beating it at trial, or at least of possibly getting to plea to a lesser offense.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.