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Articles Posted in Larceny

Recently, a Virginia appellate court affirmed a conviction against a defendant who was found guilty of robbery. The court held that the conviction of robbery was appropriate given that there was a sufficient basis for finding that intimidation was involved in the robbery.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant entered a bank, passed the teller a note, and uttered that “this is a robbery.” When the teller asked her to repeat what she said, the defendant said, “Give me all the money; this is a robbery.” During her testimony, the teller stated that she was in shock and that the bank policy requires that if someone utters the word “robbery,” the teller must comply with their demands. The teller handed the defendant all the money and set off an alarm. The teller testified that at the time, she was not sure what the defendant’s intentions were, was not sure if the defendant would hurt her, and was thinking about a recent incident where four tellers at a bank were shot and killed during a robbery. After the robbery incident, the teller immediately began to cry and shake.

The defendant was convicted of robbery and appealed that conviction. The defendant argued that the lower court erred in finding that the teller gave the defendant the money as a result of intimidation and instead argued that the teller gave her the money because of the bank policy requiring a teller to comply during a robbery.

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Recently, a Virginia appellate court affirmed convictions against a defendant who had been found guilty of credit card fraud and embezzlement. The court found that the guilty verdict was appropriate, even though the defendant argued in her appeal that there was not sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt. In the opinion, the court wrote that the evidence was not lacking and that it provided enough details to support convictions for seven counts of credit card fraud and four counts of embezzlement.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant worked as a caretaker for a woman who suffered from physical incapacities and memory loss. The defendant came to the woman’s home several times a week starting in 2015 and assisted with housecleaning, grocery shopping, and other errands. Eventually, it came to Adult Protective Service’s attention that the woman’s two credit cards were consistently showing much higher balances than they had shown before the defendant was hired. One credit card, for example, that had a balance of approximately $3,000 in 2014, had increased to a $46,000 balance by the end of 2017. The extra charges revolved around purchases that the woman herself had no memory of making: there were charges, for example, for car repairs, jewelry, children’s clothing, lingerie, alcohol, and tattoos. At trial, the woman insisted she had not made the extra purchases shown on her credit cards.

When most people think of identity theft, they picture someone using another’s information to withdraw money or make a purchase. However, earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Virginia identify theft case discussing whether someone can be found guilty of identity theft if they use their own identifying information to obtain money. Ultimately, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, concluding that there is no statutory requirement that a person charged with identity theft use another’s identifying information.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant went to a bank and presented the bank teller with a check that was written to the defendant. The defendant gave the bank teller her own identification and asked to cash the check. The bank teller wrote the defendant’s driver’s license number on the back of the check, but suspected something was awry, as the writing on the check was not uniform. The teller called the account holder, who gave the phone to a police officer who was currently at her home investigating a burglary. As it turns out, the checks were in the process of being reported stolen. As the teller was on the phone, the defendant left the bank.

The defendant was charged with several crimes, including identify theft. The defendant admitted to possessing the check and trying to cash it. However, the defendant claimed that the check was given to her for payment for a television she sold to a woman named “Sug.” The defendant testified that she accepted the check, not knowing the woman’s real name because she needed the money. She also explained that she left the bank because she was scared. The account holder testified that she never gave anyone that check, and that signature on the check was not hers.

In November of 2019, Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties elected new Commonwealth’s Attorneys. Some of these prosecutors have hinted that they will not be prosecuting possession of marijuana and/or petit larceny cases. Apparently, some officers are informing defendants that they do not need to hire attorneys for these kinds of cases because the prosecutor will just “drop” them.

In reality, none of these new Commonwealth’s Attorneys have taken office yet, and no official plans have been set as to how the offices are going to handle these cases. Currently, there are programs, such as the deferred finding program, or the OAR program, that would end in these charges being dismissed. However, these types of “dismissals” may still have negative consequences, as you cannot remove these charges from your record, even though they show up as dismissed.

Without knowing exactly how each of these Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Offices are going to handle possession of marijuana and petit larceny cases, it is still very important to hire an attorney to represent you. We at Robinson Law can review the facts of your case and determine if there are any defenses, so that you may not even need to go through whatever processes, if any, are put in place. We can also work to guide you through whatever process is put in place, if that is the best course of action, or work to get you a result that could be removed from you record, even if the process put in place does not allow that. If you or someone you know has been charged with either possession of marijuana or petit larceny, contact us today for your free consultation.

By Andrew Criado, Senior Attorney

The four most important words in criminal law: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. What does that mean? It means that a person charged with a crime cannot be convicted and punished unless the prosecution can prove the defendant’s guilt in court beyond a reasonable doubt. The government’s evidence has to erase all reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt. What if, at the end of the prosecution’s case, there remains some doubt about whether the defendant committed the crime? Then the charge must be dismissed. What if the prosecution proves that the defendant probably committed the crime? Then the charge must be dismissed. In a criminal case, any conclusion other than proof beyond a reasonable doubt requires that the charge be dismissed—forever.

The government gets one shot at proving its case. This concept is important because it makes clear that a criminal case is about whether the government can prove the crime rather than whether the crime actually happened. There are many cases where the evidence shows that the defendant most likely committed the crime but the charge is nonetheless dismissed because the evidence does not meet the high burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

A Miranda warning is designed to be a protection against self incrimination, that is, a protection from defendants being forced to make statements or give other information that will help the government convict them of a crime. The Miranda case says that where a person is in custody and being interrogated (asked questions) those circumstances are similar to a forced confession. For that reason, the police must first warn a person who is in custody and being questioned that they have the right to remain silent, that what they do say will be used against them in court, and that they have the right to a lawyer. Unless the warning is given, the statements made by the defendant cannot be used in court.

Why did I receive a Miranda warning? Simply, because the police hope that you will make statements they can use to convict you. It is never just to “get your side of things,” it is always to build a case against you.  At the end of the warning, you may be asked if you understand you rights and are willing to waive them. The answer should be “no” 100% of the time until you can talk to a lawyer. Any statement you make, even if you declare your innocence, can be twisted and used against you.

But what if you were arrested and never received a Miranda warning?  Does that mean the charges will be dropped? Not necessarily. First, any statements that are volunteered to the police don’t require a Miranda warning. In other words, if you tell them things without being asked a question, Miranda doesn’t apply because you aren’t being “interrogated.” This is true even if you have already said you are remaining silent and have asked for a lawyer.

Fairfax County has a special program designed specifically for petit larceny and other misdemeanor theft cases. This is called the OAR program. The general requirements to be eligible for the program are a) this must be your first offense, and b) you must be charged with only one offense. The program consists of completing 1) your are required to plead guilty or no contest to the charge, 2) 50 hours of community service, 3) the shoplifter’s prevention course, and 4) a period of probation. Upon completion of all requirements the charge is dismissed.

There some problems with this program. First, the charge is not expungeable, which means that it will stay on your record as a dismissed charge permanently. This means that it is something that you will most likely have to explain to employers. This can also have an impact on both qualifying for and maintaining security clearances. Second, if you are not a United States citizen, this will still count as a conviction for immigration purposes. This is due to the fact that under Federal Law, a plea of guilty or no contest is sufficient for the conviction itself. Therefore, even though the charge is dismissed, it can still have a negative impact on your immigration situation. We at Robinson Law can assist you in managing your case to determine the best outcome for your specific situation and work towards achieving it.

Grand larceny in Virginia can be charged in three different ways: taking money or anything else that is worth $5 or more from a person (that is, physically from them), committing larceny of something that is worth $500 or more, or committing larceny of any firearm regardless of its value. In layman’s terms, a larceny is the carrying and taking away of someone else’s property with the intention to permanently deprive them of it. Other words commonly used for this are stealing or theft.

There are several components to larceny in Virginia. The first is the taking and carrying away. In most cases this involves physically handling and removing money or something else of value. Though in shoplifting cases, simply concealing an item in a bag or removing or altering the price tag is considered enough, even if the item has not yet left the store.

Next, the property must belong to someone else. So, for example, you cannot commit larceny of something you co-own with others, unless you have given up your right to use or possess it by agreement.

Have you ever wondered when a police officer is authorized to search you? Or if he has enough evidence against you to make an arrest? This is where the familiar terms “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” come in to play. These concepts are fundamental in determining if and when a person can be detained for questioning, searched and arrested (seized).

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. But what exactly does ‘unreasonable’ mean? Rather than following a neat, concise set of legal rules, reasonable suspicion and probable cause are based on the circumstantial interpretation made by the police officer(s). However, the officer’s interpretation must align with the Constitution, which is not always the case. In this week’s post I break down these two terms and provide examples through hypothetical DUI stops.

● Reasonable suspicion for an investigative stop – An officer can briefly detain a person if he has a reasonable belief that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The officer may also perform a limited search (frisk) of the outside of the person’s clothing if he has a reasonable belief that the person is armed. The officer’s belief must be based on facts or circumstances. In other words, an officer cannot simply “guess” or “feel” as though a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.

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