What do I do if I am charged with theft even if the owner is not pressing charges? 30 Answers as of September 18, 2012

I was caught stealing a plaque from a fraternity house, which is a common joke between fraternities. The police officer gave me a court date and the members of the fraternity came outside and said that they were not pressing charges. The officer said he had to document the incident and give me a court date.

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James M. Osak, P.C.
James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
RETAIN AN ATTORNEY ASAP. Maybe the judge is from that fraternity!
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/18/2012
Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
The case may not be prosecuted or the fraternity members may not testify. You could be prosecuted if you try to talk to them, intimidating a witness. You need a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/18/2012
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
I would get an attorney and fight the matter the other people may come in and tell the court that this is a cultural thing in frats and it was not intended with any malice.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/18/2012
Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
If the DA decided to press charges you will have to deal with this even if the owner said he would not press charges. The DA will speak with the owner to determine what the Owner wants to do, but the ultimate decision about the case is up to the DA now that charges have been filed. I would recommend retaining counsel to give you an opportunity to best defend yourself. If you cannot afford counsel and the DA is seeking jail time, the Court will appoint counsel to represent you.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/18/2012
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
Without witnesses, the court will have trouble convicting you, but you MUST appear in court.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 9/18/2012
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com | Andrea Storey Rogers
    Hire an attorney to represent you to keep this off your permanent criminal record. The prosecutor has the power to prosecute you for a crime of theft even if the other fraternity is not pressing charges.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/18/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Best to hire a lawyer to be sure things are handled correctly. The fraternity it was stolen from cannot drop charges.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/18/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should retain a good criminal lawyer to have the case dismissed. Since it is more of a prank than a joke the prosecutor will likely offer an ACD dismissal. In the future it would be wise to not commit any crimes for any reason since it will hurt your career and school opportunities if you get a criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/18/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If they don't show up for trial the case Will get dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/18/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    You must appear at your court date. If you choose you appear without an attorney, you appear at your own risk.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/18/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    The prosecutor may dismiss the charges under the facts you have given.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    You must appear for arraignment on that court date. You will learn at that hearing whether the DA filed charges or not. If he did, plead not guilty and immediately hire an attorney. If serious about do so to help in this, feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to help fight this and get the best outcome possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Victims do not prosecute. The government does.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Hire a criminal defense attorney to try to get the charge dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If booked on the charge, go to court.? If members of the fraternity house do not appear in court or advise the prosecutor that they elect not to proceed the charges against you should be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Doesn't matter that the owner doesn't care, once charges are made the case is in the hands of the prosecutor. .
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    The prosecutor may or may not press charges. Watch your mail for a summons. Since it was a prank, it may not be criminal due to your lack of criminal intent.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Natty Shafer Law
    Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
    The officer can testify to whatever he witnessed. It makes your case somewhat better if the fraternity refuses to help him in his case, but you should probably have a lawyer helping you.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Theft is a crime. The owner does not actually "press charges". It is the prosecutor who files the charges based upon the evidence of a crime. The owner is only a victim/witness to the crime. It is entirely up to the prosecutor. My advice: retain the services of an attorney to help you with this.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    Make sure to attend court. You will find out if they are following up on the case.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    What the owner thinks is irrelevant. Suppose you steal from a Wal-Mart, and one of Sam Walton's daughters says its okay, do you think you're home free? No way.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Probably the case will be dismissed at the court date, but the victim's consent is not technically necessary. If, at the court date, you are formally accused of theft (or, worse, burglary), you absolutely must have a lawyer. If you can't afford one, the court will appoint a lawyer. If the court doesn't appoint a lawyer, hire one. Borrow money from family or sell your car or your baseball card collection if you have to. Do not assume that this will go away because it is stupid. Stupid charges routinely lead to convictions, mostly because the defendant doesn't take them seriously. Don't make that mistake. A lawyer can probably get stupid charges dismissed, and, if not, can minimize the damage.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    Once a crime is reported, only the prosecutor can drop the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Hire an attorney This e-mail is covered under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 USC 2510-2521, and is legally privileged. The information contained in this e-mail is intended only for use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent responsible to deliver it to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Then you have to deal with the charges. The police can prosecute even if the victim says no..
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    T.K. Byrne | Timothy K. Byrne
    If owner will not press charges the officer will have no property interest and the matter should get dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    Some jokes can be prosecuted as crimes. Get an attorney, you might have a reasonable hypothesis of innocence.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Germaine & Blaszka, P.A.
    Germaine & Blaszka, P.A. | Donald L. Blaszka, Jr.
    In NH, people do not "press charges" against other people. If the owner contacted the police department and an officer investigated the crime, the state through the police department and prosecutor's office controls the prosecution of the case, not individuals. You should retain an attorney to represent you in this case.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Langford Law Firm
    Langford Law Firm | Theresa Langford
    You face serious problems, and should not proceed without an attorney. If convicted (even probation is a conviction it will follow you forever, even if it is a misdemeanor; since theft is a crime of moral turpitude. An experienced defense attorney may be able to get this dismissed, diverted or deferred.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/17/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    Show up for court. The state should subpoena members of the other fraternity who can show up and testify that this is a common prank. The state should have to prove intent to deprive, and a common prank like "borrowing" a plaque does not show your intent, I don't think. You should be fine, but don't count on it. Get a lawyer to go with you.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/17/2012
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