Check fraud/uttering question

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Check fraud/uttering question

My son (22) was questioned by police about 3 stolen checks. His friend asked him to cash 3 checks since he didn’t have ID. He claims he told his boss to write the check to my son’s name. My son cashed them, each for $150. The checks were stolen. The business, that owns the checks, contacted the police. They suspect the friend since he worked at this business. Police asked my son if he was willing to testify against his friend and if he would take a lie detector test. He said yes. Question, should we contact an attorney now or should we wait and see if my son gets charged with anything?

Asked on May 21, 2009 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your son is wholly in the clear it may seem to be a total waste of money to have to hire a lawyer to represent him or even have to pay for a consultation. (Criminal defense lawyers almost never provide a free initial consultation.) However, it may be one of the smartest things to do.

The best chance for your son to avoid being charged is having a lawyer represent him before he is charged. It is far easier, far less expensive and far less damaging to his future to avoid having charges brought than to litigate and defeat charges after they are brought.

Let's assume he had nothing to do with the 3 checks and would pass any lie detector test and is wholly innocent, and would be acquitted even if charges were brought against him.

My concern would be not only with the matter of the 3 checks, but perhaps other things your son may have done that could come back to haunt him.

What if his buddy who stole the checks and forged them may, as part of a plea deal, or out of spite (once he realizes your son will testify) claim "I told him everything" about the checks and gave him $50 each to cash the checks and he gave me $100." That's sufficient evidence of involvement to warrant prosecution. Or the buddy may ask if he will  get a lesser sentence if he turns in a big drug dealer, and then claims your son is a dealer. Let's also assume that sometime in your life your son did something wrong. If he is asked about that under the questioning what should he say?  That's how a criminal defense attorney can help.

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I would recommend talking to a criminal defense attorney first.  One place to find counsel is our website, http://attorneypages.com

Lie detector tests aren't admissible in court, but the police put a lot of faith in them.  If the test convinces the police that your son had no idea that the checks were stolen, he is probably in the clear.  The problem, though, is that sometimes, once a person is hooked up to the machine, questions that go into completely different subjects get asked.  Most criminal lawyers recommend refusing to take the lie detector tests, but most will, if asked, help make sure that it isn't used for a "fishing expedition."  Cops don't like lawyers, but they respect them, and the occasional less-than-honest detective will usually be on his best behavior if he knows a lawyer is watching.


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