What am I looking at as far as punishment for being charged with "Theft" in Washington State even though I dont think I was stea

Asked about 2 years ago - Olympia, WA

I was buying groceries at Top Foods and upon completing my shopping I answered a phone call. After a few minutes of chatting on the phone ( I was in my own world not really paying attention to where I was or what I was doing) I hung up just in time to hear an employee behind me ask if I had a receipt for my items. I KINDLY said no and that I was sorry I wasnt paying attention to my surroundings. I had wandered around the cash registers and was standing a little bit infront of one of the exits. I turned around and walked to the registers to pay. The total was $34.73. 2 steaks, bottle of wine and some almonds. My payment method was going to be using the cash machine located inside the store and withdrawing cash to pay. I told the clerk that I did not have any cash on me and that I only had my ATM card. He told me to go use the cash machine. (at this point the clerk had obviously thought I was trying to steal the items regardless of the fact that I had not left the store. He said that because I had gone pass the cash registers or The Point of Sale I had intentions of stealing ) When I used the ATM machine the machine told me " Account not Accessible"........A month or so earlier I had my wallet stolen and cancelled all of my cards. This was my new card that I had activated but hadnt ever used yet. I then called a friend of mine and asked that he come give me some $ because I am having trouble with the atm machine and that the store was trying to call me a shoplifter. I re-approached the clerk and told him that for some reason the atm machine was not letting me access my $ and that I had a friend in route to bring the $. The clerk instantly said that it was unacceptable and that I had my chance to pay. He then escorted me to the back offices where he proceeded to call the police. No matter what I said I was told that it was too late and that I had passed the point of sale and that when I was asked to pay for the items I had no $ therefore I was considered shoplifting. My friend arrived with $ and the associates told me that it was too late and that he could not pay for my groceries. I called my bank and put the phone on speaker phone so that everyone on the office could hear the recording of my balance in my checking account. Nothing I could do seemed to matter and I was being cited for theft! I had no intentions of stealing anything and I dont know why my atm card did not work. Now I have a court date and dont want to plead guilty to anything because I dont feel I broke any laws. What can I do to help my situation and explain/ plea my innocense. What kind of trouble will I face If they try and get me to take a plea and I dont accept. Im pleading not guilty to everything because I did nothing wrong and when the money was provided they would not let me pay them with it. I am 30 yrs old and have been arrested for theft 2 times when I was a teenager. Stupid kid stuff when I was 16 and 17. Please help

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Mark Anthony Chmelewski

    Pro

    Contributor Level 8

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The police can charge you, but the issue is can the Prosecuting Attorney prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt and convince 6 jurors to return a unanimous verdict.
    You should retain local counsel to represent you. Good Luck!

    Answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.The above... more
  2. Thuong-Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . "I was going to pay" is what many shoplifters say when caught. So, you likely will find that your story is not going to be credible to the prosecutor, especially since you "have been arrested for theft 2 times" previously.

    That you have not left the store may not mean that you would not be found guilty. If the jury is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not have intention to pay, you would be found guilty.

    That you have plenty of money in your bank or on your person does not necessarily mean that you would not be found guilty. There are plenty of rich persons who are convicted of shoplifting. Shoplifting appears to be sometime a mental health issue, not a financial issue.

    What you need to do is review your specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options. There may be ways to resolve your situation that would eventually result in charges against you being dismissed.

  3. Alexander M. Ivakhnenko

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You offer a very detailed narrative. Please find a licensed defense attorney in Washington who is familiar with that jurisdiction where your court case will be heard, meet with that person, discuss everything in confidence and great detail.
    Do not ever make any public statements as above in any alleged criminal activity; it will not help to announce the facts or allegations to the whole world as this communication is not protected.

    DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general... more

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