If you have been charged with any theft offense in Minnesota you may be asking yourself, Do I need a lawyer for petty theft? If charged with any crime, you can always benefit from the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The term “petty theft” might leave you with the impression that this offense is minor. The reality is the consequences of a theft conviction could follow you forever.
What’s more, serving as your own attorney during a petty theft prosecution only increases the chances of a conviction. An otherwise strong defense case could be squandered my avoidable errors or mistakes. An attorney could put you in the best position to secure an acquittal.
A theft charges lawyer of Gerald Miller understand the nature of petty theft charges. Our firm knows that a conviction could have lasting consequences that follow you forever. Contact our firm to discuss your options right away.
Theft Charges in Minnesota
The term “petty theft” refers to a specific type of criminal offense. There are multiple types of theft crimes under state law, and petty theft is the least severe of them all. Being the least severe, you may be thinking, Do I need a lawyer for petty theft?
The term “petty theft” is not found in Minnesota statutes. Instead, it is a term used informally to describe the lowest tier of theft crime. This offense is governed by Minnesota Statute Section 609.52. Petty theft specifically refers to the theft of property valued at less than $500. The theft of property valued at or above $500 is treated as a different level of theft offense.
Petty theft is a misdemeanor under state law. Under the law, a conviction can carry a jail term of as much as 90 days, a fine of no more than $1,000, or any combination of the two penalties. These are maximum penalties, and it is not uncommon for a conviction to result in much lower penalties. For first-time offenders, it could be possible to avoid jail time entirely with a plea bargain.
The Risks of Going Without an Attorney in Minneapolis
Are you asking yourself, Do I need a lawyer for petty theft? You are under no obligation to hire an attorney for your petty theft case. That said, your choice to serve as your own attorney could have severe consequences. Every mistake that you make handling your case could make it that much harder to secure a favorable outcome in your petty theft case.
Lack of Legal Knowledge
Knowledge of the law is vital for any successful defense. Attorneys spend years learning the law in school and then grow that legal knowledge during the course of their career.
The depth of criminal law is impossible to measure. When serving as your own attorney, you might not realize how your lack of legal knowledge might put you at a disadvantage. The lack of experience with legal research could put you at a steep disadvantage throughout the course of your case.
Lack of Courtroom Experience
There is more to defending yourself at trial than understanding the law. Experience with courtroom procedure is also important. There are numerous steps involved in criminal cases that are not described in the statutes. At this point you may be again asking, Do I need a lawyer for petty theft? Do you have experience selecting a jury, introducing evidence, or scheduling depositions? This can all be difficult without experience in the courtroom.
The Need for Impartiality
When you handle your own petty theft case, it can be difficult to remain objective. You are likely to be emotional about your case, and that can cloud your judgment. This is especially true when making the important decisions regarding plea bargains and trial preparation. Without an attorney serving as a neutral sounding board, you could make decisions that are ultimately not in your best interest.
No Special Treatment
While the court might make minor accommodations for you if you decide to not hire an attorney, that does not mean a judge will give you a free pass for not understanding the law. When you go without an attorney you serve as your own legal counsel. This means your decisions can have serious consequences.
What’s more, the judge is barred from providing you legal advice. No matter the stakes of your case, the judge will never give you hints or suggestions on how best to proceed.
You might not have an attorney by your side, but you can count on facing off against an attorney. Prosecutors are licensed attorneys, and they frequently have substantial experience handling petty theft cases.
This automatically starts you at a disadvantage. Facing off against another non-attorney might be one thing, but going head-to-head with a licensed attorney is another. A prosecutor could take advantage of your lack of knowledge and get away with tactics that a defense attorney would never allow.
How an Attorney Could Help
There are many different ways an attorney could help with your petty theft charge. By serving as your advocate, the attorneys of Gerald Miller could provide you with the best chance of an acquittal.
Evaluate Your Charges
The work of a criminal defense attorney begins the moment you hire them. The first step in addressing your case is to carefully evaluate every aspect of it. Your attorney could thoroughly review every aspect of your arrest in order to develop a strong defense strategy.
If you debating and asking yourself, Do I need a lawyer for petty theft? Know that if you handle your case on your own, you might miss something that the attorneys from our firm would have noticed. This could include exculpatory evidence or signs that the police have violated your civil rights.
Seek a Dismissal
While it is not always possible to have the charges against you dropped, your attorney could pursue a dismissal early on in your case. It is not unusual for the police to make an arrest for theft despite a lack of evidence. Your attorney could work to demonstrate that there is little to no evidence that you have done anything wrong.
Negotiating plays a big part in most petty theft cases. The vast majority of these cases never go trial. Instead, they are usually resolved with a plea bargain. That does not mean every plea bargain will be fair or reasonable. It often requires extensive negotiations to obtain a plea offer worth accepting.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller have had countless negotiations with prosecutors on theft-based offenses. Going into negotiations with a sound strategy and an understanding of common outcomes in petty theft cases could help you get the plea bargain you deserve.
Some people facing criminal charges of any kind have no one to rely on. There is a stigma that comes with arrests and prosecutions, and sometimes friends and family might be unwilling to get involved in the process. An attorney could serve as psychological support for anyone facing a petty theft charge.
What’s more, your attorney can be an independent voice whose opinion is not clouded by emotion. By remaining detached emotionally, your attorney is in a position to give you the best objective advice about your case.
Access to Resources
There are certain important resources that are helpful in building a winning defense. If you’re wonder do I need a lawyer for petty theft, know that these resources might not be available to defendants. Attorneys generally have access to law libraries as well as the skills needed to perform research.
An attorney could also use their position to find evidence that is not available to the defendant. For example, an alleged witness to the offense might not be willing to discuss their case with you directly. However, they might be willing to discuss your case with your attorney.
Knowledge of the System
There is a lot to know about the criminal justice system. From understanding the scope of the statute to having an idea of how a judge might rule if your case goes to trial, this knowledge can only be gained through experience.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to put their years of experience to work in your case. Our attorneys have spent years in the court room developing a deep understanding of the criminal justice system.
Talk to Gerald Miller About Your Charges
It is understandable if your arrest for petty theft feels overwhelming, especially if you have never been charged with a crime before. Because this criminal offense has developed a reputation of being minor, you may be asking yourself, Do I need a lawyer for petty theft? The reality is that a conviction for petty theft could throw your life into chaos.
The good news is that a conviction is never guaranteed in a petty theft case. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to investigate the facts and develop a theory on how best to defend you against these charges. If you are ready to get started on your defense, contact Gerald Miller right away to schedule your free consultation.