August 23, 2017

My daughter was recently arrested for shoplifting. She has never been in trouble before, can you please advise on how to handle this?

Additional Information:

My 19 year old daughter was caught shoplifting a few weeks ago at a local drug store ($15 make up kit). I guess I was hoping the whole thing would go away but we got a summons to appear for something like a magistrate hearing. Any thoughts on how to handle this? She has never been in any trouble before but she just made a stupid mistake.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

It really depends on the Court and the particular magistrate to know what may happen at the hearing.  These are closed hearings not open to the public.  A representative of the local police department will read a summary of the facts to the clerk magistrate.  You have an opportunity to bring an attorney or represent yourself.  Although your daughter is an adult you would likely be allowed to participate in the hearing with your daughter.  Your daughter could present any evidence she may have in her own behalf or say nothing.  She should know that any thing she says can be used against her in a later proceeding, and the proceedings are recorded.

The magistrate has discretion to “weed out” cases where no probable cause exists and also cases that may not necessarily deserve to go any further because it is a minor offense and no prior record exists.  Sometimes in those situations the Court will hold the matter open for a period of months and if there is no further problems the matter would close.  That is really the best case scenario.

If probable cause is found, then your daughter would next have to attend an arraignment where she is formally charged and then can take the case to trial or resolve it in some other way.  However, once probable cause is found and she is arraigned then the case will appear on her record.  So if at all possible it is beneficial to have no probable cause found at the magistrate hearing.  Often times hiring a local lawyer who is familiar with the process and the people involved can produce beneficial results.

Without knowing the specifics of the case and the Court I could not advise you on exactly what I think you should do in this case.  Hopefully this at least lets you know about the process and some of your options.

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RIDDLE & ASSOCIATES, ATTORNEYS AT LAW
Worcester County Criminal Defense Lawyers
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Lunenburg, Massachusetts