My son is in court on circumstantial evident for retail theft. He was a minor and all is based on the video surveillance camera. All they saw was him getting some stuff, entering the fitting room with, coming out w/o the merchandise, but instead holding different 2 pairs of pants, leaving those pants somewhere at the store and leaving the store. They said, they checked the fitting room after he left and didn't find the items. Base on this they took him to court, give him public attorney. She wants him to take a deal of supervision. He says he never took anything. She never return our calls, all she did today in the court, she yell at us with anger and said she'll say he is going to the bench jury if that's his choice. What's his chance w/o the lawyer since we don't have one now?
Illinois law makes no distinction between the probative value of direct and circumstantial evidence. All evidence must be weighed by the trier of fact (i.e., the jury or, if there is no jury, then the judge) to determine whether the State has proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. At one time, it was the law in Illinois that a conviction based exclusively upon circumstantial evidence could only stand if the evidence was sufficient to exclude any reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence, but that formulation is no longer used, and all considerations are gathered within the "reasonable doubt" standard.
Your son is much better off with the public defender than he is trying to go it alone. What the lawyer is trying to tell him (and perhaps she is not very good about the way she says it) is that she thinks he has little chance to be found not guilty and that he would be better off taking the superivision, which is not a conviction and might eventually be expunged. But, as she says herself, it is his decision, not hers, and if he wants a trial she has to accept his decision and try the case.
Please do not confuse the difficult personal relationship that your son and the public defender seem to have with the matter of making the right decision about what to do with this case. They are two different things.
IL law requires all juveniles charged under the Juvenile Court Act be represented by an attorney so there is no going it alone. You either go with the public defender appointed to your son by the court (yes, they are attorneys) or you hire your own lawyer to defend him.
Incidentally, a person does not have to leave the store, or even make it past the cash registers with unpaid for merchandise, to be guilty of retail theft. Unless you are going to hire your son an attorney, I'd listen to the public defender, who is in a better position to apply the law to the facts and then give advice based on that analysis.
There is something which is sounding odd. If they had cameras near the fitting rooms, aren't there other cameras in the store which would be there to see if people were stealing in other parts of the store? The video recordings of these cameras should be subpoenaed and reviewed. If the video from these shows your son leaving the pants in a different part of the store, then the matter should be dropped. These details should not be broadcast over the Internet.
A minor ( nor an adult) does not have the skills to represent themselves in a court of law. That option is out of the question. Have your son ask to meet with his PD in private and clear up any misunderstandings ASAP. Don't be confused about evidence. Both direct and circumstantial evidence is generally admitted at trial before the court; here is some additional info I found online:
Information and testimony presented by a party in a civil or criminal action that permit conclusions that indirectly establish the existence or nonexistence of a fact or event that the party seeks to prove.
Circumstantial Evidence is also known as indirect evidence. It is distinguished from direct evidence, which, if believed, proves the existence of a particular fact without any inference or presumption required. Circumstantial evidence relates to a series of facts other than the particular fact sought to be proved. The party offering circumstantial evidence argues that this series of facts, by reason and experience, is so closely associated with the fact to be proved that the fact to be proved may be inferred simply from the existence of the circumstantial evidence.
The following examples illustrate the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence: If John testifies that he saw Tom raise a gun and fire it at Ann and that Ann then fell to the ground, John's testimony is direct evidence that Tom shot Ann. If the jury believes John's testimony, then it must conclude that Tom did in fact shoot Ann. If, however, John testifies that he saw Tom and Ann go into another room and that he heard Tom say to Ann that he was going to shoot her, heard a shot, and saw Tom leave the room with a smoking gun, then John's testimony is circumstantial evidence from which it can be inferred that Tom shot Ann. The jury must determine whether John's testimony is credible.
Circumstantial evidence is most often employed in criminal trials. Many circumstances can create inferences about an accused's guilt in a criminal matter, including the accused's resistance to arrest; the presence of a motive or opportunity to commit the crime; the accused's presence at the time and place of the crime; any denials, evasions, or contradictions on the part of the accused; and the general conduct of the accused. In addition, much Scientific Evidence is circumstantial, because it requires a jury to make a connection between the circumstance and the fact in issue. For example, with fingerprint evidence, a jury must make a connection between this evidence that the accused handled some object tied to the crime and the commission of the crime itself.
Books, movies, and television often perpetuate the belief that circumstantial evidence may not be used to convict a criminal of a crime. But this view is incorrect. In many cases, circumstantial evidence is the only evidence linking an accused to a crime; direct evidence may simply not exist. As a result, the jury may have only circumstantial evidence to consider in determining whether to convict or acquit a person charged with a crime. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that "circumstantial evidence is intrinsically no different from testimonial [direct] evidence"(Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 75 S. Ct. 127, 99 L. Ed. 150 ).
I understand your frustration. Having said that, people have been convicted based on circumstantial evidence alone. It sounds like there has been a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. Although courts have limited patience for appointing new counsel to takeover for previous counsel, it may be possible to request that a new attorney be appointed. Communication is key to effective representation so this attorney should be returning phone calls.
Theft is taking someone's property without his or her consent. Theft includes, but is not limited to, shoplifting, taking someone's mail, and stealing a car.
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