Interviewer: What are people afraid of when they come to see you? What are their misconceptions? What worries them most about the whole process?
Many People Are Afraid of a Jail Sentence and That Their Families Will Discovery They Have Been Charged with Shoplifting
Jacqueline: Most of my clients are very afraid that they are going to go to jail. They are afraid that their family will find out. They have to be assured that there is an attorney-client privilege and that if they do not want mail going to their house, then we can fulfill that promise on our side.
Attorney Pivawer’s Practice Respects Her Clients Privacy and Encourages Them to Be Circumspect in Communicating the Charge to Other People
We will not send any communication, even an email to the house. Truthfully, no family members or anybody else has a right to know what is going on. We suggest to them that they do not tell a lot of people that this has happened, if they are concerned and they should do their best to keep it private.
Even Though the Jail Sentence is a Potential Penalty, Many People Assume That a Jail Term is a Distinct Possibility
And what are their misconceptions? Most everyone is under the impression that they just might go to jail and they are scared. They are actually really scared as to what can happen. To help allay some of their fears, I try to explain to them what is likely to happen. Of course, at the same time, as an attorney, I have to tell them about the statutory limits, which include the six-months’ jail and $1000.00 fine; although I will qualify it and say, “I doubt that that is going to happen.”
Many People Have Not Been Before a Judge Previously and Are Intimidated by the Court Proceeding
As far as the Court proceeding is concerned, many people have never been in Court and, they are very intimidated by the Judge. You could be there for several hours until your case is called. They do not realize that there is a formal process and they are going to have to get up and make a statement for the Judge to accept their plea. If there is a plea, they are going to have to give a factual basis for the Court to accept it.
If the Evidence is Not Substantial in a Shoplifting Case, It can be Dismissed; However, This Does Not Occur Frequently
As far as trials are concerned, basically, in my experience, if the evidence is not good, the Prosecutor is not going to go for trial. This is because if the Prosecutor knows he is going to lose, why go for a trial? Every now and then, it can happen where the case gets dismissed. The evidence is just not there.
However, this does not occur too often because these stores are very experienced. They know what they are doing. But a trial in any case, whether it is shoplifting or any other type of case, occurs when it is not clear that the State has a case. A trial occurs also when someone feels they have nothing to lose, so they will go to trial.
Attorney Pivawer Advises Her Clients When to Pursue Their Case to Trial and When It Is Advisable Not To
Everybody has a right to a trial. However, I would advise the client, if I see that the facts are against them, that they should not go to trial and would be better of negotiating a plea. They risk conviction on every charge. It is going to cost them more money. They are going to sit in Court for hours.
What Should Occur During a Trial? There Should Be an Authentic Difference of Opinion About the Alleged Incident
When trying a case, a real difference of opinion based on the purported action has to exist. Most of the Prosecutors know the statute inside and out. They know very well whether the incident conforms to the statute. They are not about to waste their time, either, on a losing case.
A Tiny Fraction of Cases Actually Proceed to Trial
Statistics show in any area of law, the number of cases that are tried are minimal. It is possibly only one percent.
Interviewer: I am sure many people are not aware of that statistic.
The Vast Majority of Cases Are Settled Prior to Trial
Jacqueline: Yes, and any area, whether it is criminal, matrimonial, or civil, ninety-nine percent of the cases settle.
Do Many People Accused of Shoplifting Feel the Case is Defensible?
Interviewer: With this offense and you have alluded to this, is it at all possible to expect mercy from the Court in a shoplifting case? Do you have clients who say to you, “I cannot take the stress. They got me and I just want to give up.”?
Jacqueline: If they feel they have a valid defense, I have not seen somebody say they just could not take the process. I really have not encountered that from any of my clients.
Most People Accused of Shoplifting Do Want to Fight the Charge Whenever Possible
Most people usually want to avail themselves of their rights. If there is a defense, they want to avail themselves of the defense. I, of course, want to help them. I have not seen someone say, “Oh, I give up.”