My client was charged with Petty Theft and Burglary after a store clerk accused her of assisting another person steal from a convenient store.  The defense subpoenaed surveillance which revealed the store clerk was lying and the case was dismissed.

The Situation: My client was accused of assisting another person in stealing from a convenient store and was charged with Petty Theft and Burglary

My client was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She entered a convenient store at the same time another person was caught stealing.  When the person was caught, a store clerk tried to chase after him.  My client was in the store clerk’s way and unwittingly blocked him from running after the thief.

When the police came, the store clerk accused her of helping the thief by intentionally blocking his path when he was in pursuit.  He further stated to police that she entered the store at the same time as the thief and that they had been talking.

The prosecution charged her with Petty Theft and Burglary under a theory of Aiding and Abetting.  A person is guilty of a crime when they aid and abet another in the commission of that crime.  Aid and abet means that the person specifically intended to, and does in fact, aid, facilitate, promote, encourage, or instigate the perpetrator’s commission of that crime.

The Result: Case dismissed after the video proved the store clerk was lying.

The police never bothered to obtain or review any video surveillance at the store.  Through my experience litigating hundreds of theft cases, I knew almost every convenient store has surveillance cameras to monitor for theft.  I issued a subpoena duces tecum to the store requesting any and all footage from the night in question.  The store provided the evidence without objection.

A review of the footage showed that the store clerk was lying.  First, my client did not enter the store at the same time as the thief.  Second, my client and the thief never interacted whatsoever.  Finally, and most importantly, my client did not intentionally block the clerk from pursuing the thief.  The video clearly showed that she was focused on the store shelf when the store clerk ran into her.  Her blocking the clerk was unintentional.

Unfortunately, the prosecution and the police took the victim’s word for it and did not obtain the key piece of evidence that exonerated my client.  It took an experienced defense lawyer to obtain that evidence and bring it before the court.

In the end, the case was dismissed after the prosecution reviewed the video.  They knew she had committed no crime.

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