What to do about a burglary charge without positive ID?

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What to do about a burglary charge without positive ID?

My 18 year old son is charged with burglary. He was with 2 boys who were ID’d as trying to pawn stolen property. My son was not positively ID’d however. It is assumed by the police based on association. My son tells me that he was present at the pawn shop but didn’t commit the burglary. With no apparent evidence can the burglary charge stick? Can it be reduced? To what, possession of stolen property? What will the sentence be? Will he go to prison or county jail if convicted? Should we retain a criminal defense attorney? In Lawrence County, MO

Asked on August 7, 2010 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

DEFINITELY retain a criminal defense attorney, and have your son NOT talk to the police, prosecutors, etc. until he speaks with his attorney. (Also, he should not blog the event, post comments to facebook, etc.)

1) Someone can be charged with, and potentially convicted of, burglary, even without an eyewitness ID, if there there is other evidence (e.g. fingerprints) showing his presence and involvement. (Also, another suspect may give testimony against your son, either in exchange for lienency or because he believes  it will somehow help him.) Whether or not you son could be convicted depends on whether the evidence, in total, is enough to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

2) People who helped but did not themselves commit a crime may be charged with aiding and abetting (accomplice) liability.

3) Sometimes, if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to reliably convict of a more serious crime, he may elect to charge a  less serious on which he feels he does have the evidence for.

4) Possession of stolen property is a crime.

5) The sentence, if convicted of or pleading to a crime, depends on the crime.


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