Interviewer: How long can a theft case potentially last? What’s the longest could it take?
Randy Berman: It really depends on whether you are going to fight the charge which requires you to do all the preparation for a trial and then try the case, which takes the longest time versus working out some type of plea agreement or getting into some type of pretrial diversion program that can be done early on in the case. It just depends on which route you take but just like any other case the more involved the more paper work there is, the longer it takes to do an effective evaluation and preparation.
The Timeframe Depends Upon the Magnitude of the Crime and Facts Specific to the Case
When you are talking about mortgage fraud cases or Medicare fraud cases, these involve stacks and stacks of documents that have to be perused and that kind of case can take a year or more to get ready for trial. Whereas, a person who pawns a stolen item and gives his finger print and signs his name as the owner of the property when he isn’t. There is not that much preparation that needs to be done to get that case ready for a trial if you are going to fight it or dispose of it. So it just depends on the magnitude of the crime and how specific the details are.
Juvenile Records Cannot be Accessed by a School or College in Florida
Interviewer: What if someone had a teenage child that got caught stealing? Are there any specific programs? Is that going to be a problem for them going into college?
Randy Berman: If they have got a record, yes it could be but when you are saying a child we are talking about juvenile court unless the prosecutor chooses to charge the child as an adult in which case it goes to adult court, that’s rare on theft cases. Generally, the prosecutors reserve charging children as felons in violent crimes where there are serious injuries or theft. I have seen 12 year olds with murder at adult court and for rape in an adult court but I have never seen a minor charged in an adult court with a theft crime where there is no violence.
Juvenile Records Are Accessible to State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
To finish the question, juvenile court records are not public, they cannot be accessed by the general public. They can be accessed by state agencies and by law enforcement so depending on the school that someone’s applies to, if it is a state school in the state where the crime occurred. There is chance they might be able to get access to it but normally those records are not viewable by the public so nobody would know that you had a juvenile case.
The Hindrances Posed by a Juvenile Record are a Social Issue, Not a Legal One
Interviewer: I do believe there are some trade school programs that might make it difficult for students to get in if they have any prior record?
Randy Berman: It really depends on the school, depends on what their focus and what their thought about education is. Some will argue that a child that’s had some difficulty with the criminal justice system should be given more opportunity to help defeat that type of pattern of behavior by letting him get into school. This is a social issue, not a legal one.
The Benefits of Retaining An Attorney For Defending a Theft Charge
Interviewer: Why is it crucial for them to hire an attorney for those individuals? What would you tell that individual?
Randy Berman: If you don’t handle it correctly and it results in a conviction, that conviction stays on your record for life and it cannot be wiped off your record. Legally speaking it cannot be sealed or expunged. You need to have competent legal advice to make sure that it doesn’t happen. Even though in your mind you might think it is minor, the results if not handled properly can give you a lifetime of woe.