Anyone charged with a crime needs a lawyer. Slander/defamation requires that the person or business either lie about or recklessly fail to interrogate the untruths they tell. Probably not the case here, but I would need more information.
The short answer is YES. Theft of any kind, is a very serious criminal charge. As a forner deputy district attorney, I cannot address slander. As a criminal law specialist I have 1 goal....to get charges dismissed or reduced. I can refer you to a good attorney in Orang County. Call me at 661-222-2253 if you want any advise.......David Wallin
Yes you absolutely need a lawyer. You should share your exonerating evidence with your lawyer who should know how to present it to the prosecutor in the most persuasive fashion & hopefully convince the DA to drop the case. With regard to suing the store, you need to speak with a lawyer conversant in 1st Amendment issues. Defamation suits have some special hurdles (anti-slapp etc) that may be unfamiliar to many lawyers.
You need to contact a criminal defense attorney. Petty Theft is a serious misdemeanor crime. If you have a defense, you need an attorney to present that defense to the Orange County District Attorney and Court.
You generally cannot sue the company who is demanding prosecution for slander and defamation for several reasons. One, if there is any indication you may have taken the item, you cannot sue.
My advice would be to deal with the criminal matter first, then any potential civil case. You could face some county jail time.
Contact me below to discuss your criminal case.
Seth Weinstein, Esq.
Practicing throughout Southern California
This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply.
You should retain an attorney to represent you on the petty theft. This is a crime of moral turpitude that can have serious implications on your future. You do not want to speak with the District Attorney yourself. Allow an attorney to be your spokesperson and present the evidence on your behalf.
If you have truly received a letter from the D.A., then this is serious. Usually, in petty theft cases you'll get a letter from the store, their lawyer or the "mall cops" of their lawyer threatening action and demanding that you cough up a lot of money to prevent it. These letters are hollow threats. Private individuals or companies have no authority to file charges. Only the D.A. can do this. However, if the DA has sent you a letter, it's likely that he will charge you. As other lawyers on this thread have indicated, petty theft is a serious matter. Get an attorney IMMEDIATELY!
Yes you most definitely do need an attorney. We practice in both LA and Orange Counties and can tell you there is a world of difference. A minor petty theft in Los Angeles would likely go away quietly. Nothing goes away quietly in Orange County regardless of how strongly you believe in your innocence. Prepare for a fight in Orange County. You need to get a Not Guilty or a Dismissal in your criminal case before anyone will talk to you about libel/slander or false arrest which is the more logical charge. Happy to take your call any time.