Interviewer: What’s going to happen to someone’s life; what can a theft charge prevent someone from doing?
Paul Tafelski: One of the most important things that people have to remember with these criminal convictions is that whether they’re misdemeanors or felonies, they go into the computer and circulate around the world and follow you more than they ever did in the past. Any kind of conviction is something to think about and what I’ve seen is that theft convictions are often more troublesome for people than convictions for things such as drunk driving. The reason is that when people go to apply for jobs and the employer does the background check and sees the conviction for a theft crime, they’re more likely to pass you over because they have to be concerned whether or not they can trust you.
A Defense Attorney Tries their Best to Prevent Clients from Getting Convicted on a Theft Charge
This is a concern for people particularly if they are going to be in any kind of position of confidence, where they may have access to the money or customer data or customer banking information. An employer is probably not going to hire you if you have a theft conviction on your record. One of the things we always try to do in defending these cases is obviously try to beat the case altogether, but if we can’t beat the case, try to work out some outcome that allows the client to avoid such thing getting on their record.
The Potential Avenues to Having a Theft Charge Dismissed in Michigan
Interviewer: How are ways that a theft charge can be dismissed?
Paul Tafelski: One of the big ways is if the prosecutor has difficulty with their evidence in trying to prove the element of intent, we can often build up the defense around that. Such as, the client did not intentionally try to steal anything or take anything or knowingly obtain anything in a wrongful way. Additionally, sometimes witnesses are required by the prosecution and often upon cross-examining them, it seems that the witnesses are weak or uncertain or can’t remember things or don’t really want to participate and be involved and sometimes we can force a dismissal through pressing the witnesses. Other times, we’re able to negotiate the dismissals through plea bargains and through first offender programs and things like that.
Diversionary Programs Available for First Time Theft Offenders in Michigan
Interviewer: Let’s talk about these first offender programs? What are some of the programs that are going to be available to me and how do they work?
Paul Tafelski: One of the best ones in Michigan is called the Holmes Youthful Training Act and it’s a specific program for people who are under the age of 24 at the time the offense is committed. It allows for plea bargains whereby the person’s file would be maintained in a non-public manner and the charge will be dismissed upon successful completion of their sentence or probation. What it means is that for the most part, the only people who will be able to see that conviction or see that charge ever happened will be law enforcement places or government agencies and not general employers. So, that one is a very important program for first offenders or people who may only have some kind of minor problem before and this is their first felony or first serious crime. There are also a lot of misdemeanor first offender programs for retail fraud, in particular, that allow us to negotiate ultimate dismissals of the charges if the people can agree to whatever type of probation the court wants them to do.