Sometimes a simple mistake can spiral out of control and innocent people can find themselves on the wrong side of a criminal charge. If this happens, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to thoroughly investigate and work for a favorable result.

Not long ago, a man in his 30’s was working at his family’s Sarasota convenience store when he exchanged a customer’s winning lotto ticket for $50 when it was actually worth a $200 prize. Believing this to be intentional, the woman alerted the police, who subsequently charged the man with petty theft. While this is a misdemeanor level crime and punishable by between 60 and 90 days in jail, the man’s trouble was compounded by the fact that he was working towards his U.S citizenship and a theft conviction would put his goal of staying in America at risk. With a desire to protect his freedom and preserve his legal status, he reached out to Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. and skilled attorney Erika Valcarcel.

Attorney Valcarcel began working with the prosecution and expedited a mutually agreeable outcome that allowed her client to avoid a theft conviction by participating in a Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. However, on the day of the sentencing, the complaining witness protested that the arrangement was not sufficient. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the offer and decided to pursue a conviction. Undeterred by this sudden setback, attorney Valcarcel quickly moved forward and requested depositions for the officers involved as well as the complaining witness.

Despite being notified twice, the witness did not appear again and during Valcarcel’s interview with the responding police officer, it became clear there was not enough evidence to substantiate that her client had any intent to commit theft since it could have simply been an unfortunate mishandling of money in a busy environment. In the end, the entire case was dismissed and her client avoided a devastating theft conviction without needing to participate in the original PTI option.

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