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Common Misconceptions Regarding Theft Charges In Virginia

Interviewer: What are some of the common misconceptions that your clients have about theft charges that you have to dispel when you meet with them? Do they often think that nothing is going to happen to them?

Brian Geno: Many times a person thinks that if they have a clean record that it’s going to be easy to handle in court. That they can get off without any real ramification simply because they have a clean record. That is a misconception. That has a little bit to do with how a person is punished but it very rarely would prevent a person from being convicted for a theft charge.

People Usually Have the Misconception That They Can Handle Petty Larceny Charges Without the Help of An Attorney

Another common misconception is that if they go there alone, without an attorney, to court that they can handle things because the court has programs that they offer. Now, what I’m talking about are petty larceny cases not grand larceny. Grand larceny, which would include embezzlement, robbery, these other types of theft charges we’ve talked about. Those the court would require a person to have counsel. It’s there constitutional right and it’s also something that the court would appoint to them. Talking mainly about petty larceny, they’ll say, “The court offers a program. If I take the program I’ll be okay. The program includes dismissal of all charges; therefore, I’ll be okay.” That’s a misconception too. The court may offer a program to help you get this off your record. It’s really not the kind of relief that you are thinking if you think it’ll be erased from your record completely, as if it were never there, you are wrong. People who know what they’re looking for can find it. It’s only a dismissal, a legal dismissal, it is not an actual completely erasure of the charge. My thought is if it is going to show up and people are going to know anyway that you had a theft charge, why would you ever go unprepared and just act like a program is going to fix your situation. It won’t.

Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to a Favorable Resolution of a Theft Case

Interviewer: Could you tell me some things that would make a person’s case worse?

Brian Geno: If a person gets charged with a second offense while they’re waiting for their first one to come to court that would definitely make it worse. If a person is on bond while they are waiting for their case to come up and they violate the terms of their bond that could make it worse. If a person has prior convictions and then they get another one the prior can make it worse. If a person is particularly rude to police who are charging them with these offensives or rude to loss prevention people or to the victims that could make it worse. A person doesn’t have to talk to police, they don’t have to talk to loss prevention, but they should always be courteous because it sticks out like a sore thumb if they were not. Their reputation is harmed enough just by the fact that they were charged. No need to make it worse by having a discourteous attitude. Those are some things that could make it worse.

It is Advisable To Be Courteous When Talking To Police or Loss Prevention Personnel In order to Mitigate the Circumstances

Interviewer: That is some good advice there because a lot of people think that if they have a particular state of mind that they can convince people otherwise to their benefit.

Brian Geno: Yeah, there is an old expression that says, “It is better to keep your mouth shut than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”. You’ve got to be careful with the way you act. Especially around police.

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