Articles Posted in Shoplifting

DL, a 25 year old Electrical Engineer from India, came to the US several years under a work visa program for skilled engineers. On November 28, 2014 DL went shopping at Kohl’s in Chelmsford. He filled his shopping basket with a number of items and then went to the register to pay. He paid for all the items except a pair of shoes that he had “stashed” at the bottom of the shopping basket. All of this was observed on closed circuit television by a loss prevention officer. DL proceeded out of the store and was immediately stopped by the loss prevention officer. He was brought back to the store; the shoes were removed from the basket; and the Chelmsford Police were called to the store. DL saw his whole future going by him; a criminal record of any kind could cause his visa to be revoked and he could be sent back to India. DL was released from the store and was told that he would receive a notice from the court. DL contacted Attorney Robert Lewin of North Andover.

Attorney Lewin immediately contacted the Chelmsford Police and obtained a copy of the police report. For persons who are not citizens it is critical to try to get these cases resolved without a criminal complaint being issued. The police assured Attorney Lewin that this case was being set up for a Clerk’s Hearing; this is critical as the Clerk’s Hearing is the chance to resolve the case without the client being charged (i.e. without a criminal complaint being issued). DL subsequently received a Notice of Complaint Hearing

Attorney Lewin advocated on behalf of the client with the police. On March 20, 2015 Attorney Lewin and DL appeared at Lowell District Court for the hearing. Attorney Lewin explained to the Clerk-Magistrate the significance to DL of a criminal complaint not being issued. Attorney Lewin presented the Clerk with all the positive achievements that DL had made in his life. The police were on board with not having a complaint issue against DL. At the conclusion of the hearing the Clerk-Magistrate said that she would NOT issue a criminal complaint against DL; the hearing was continued for three months and as long as DL stays out of trouble the application for criminal complaint will be dismissed at the end of the three months and no one will have to return to court. As a result of this disposition it is important to note the following:

NL, a 77 year old retired school teacher, and TN, her 75 year old husband, went shopping at a boutique store in Beverly recently. NL gathered up about $200.00 worth of merchandise that she wanted. Then she saw a purse that she just had to have. She took the purse and put it inside a shopping bag that she had. Subsequently she gave the shopping bag (with the purse inside) to her husband and directed him to go out of the store and to the car with the shopping bag; meanwhile she went to the register to pay for her other items. The loss prevention officers saw it all and brought both NL and her husband into the office. The Beverly police were called and responded to the store. The police told NL and TN that they had to stay out of the store and that they would receive a summons. The summons came. NL and her husband contacted Attorney Robert Lewin in North Andover. Because of their age and disabilities Attorney Lewin made a house call – he only does this with aged and infirm clients who do not have a way to get to his office. NL and TN were all nervous about having to appear in Court. Attorney Lewin told them not to worry, that he would get them a very favorable disposition. The case was scheduled for arraignment in Salem District Court on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. The day before the scheduled arraignment Attorney Lewin went over to the DA’s Office and explained the case to the DA. Attorney Lewin asked the DA to dismiss the case. The DA agreed. On March 11, 2015 NL, her husband, and Attorney Lewin appeared in Salem District Court. The case was called and Attorney Lewin explained to the Judge that the DA had agreed to dismiss the case. The Judge ordered the case dismissed. NL and TN were very relieved. The case got resolved both favorably and quickly due in part to Attorney Lewin going over to the DA’s Office and speaking directly with an Assistant DA before the Court date.

On August 27, 2014, EG, a 58 year old married mother of two children went into the Whole Foods Market in Andover. She filled her shopping cart with about $150.00 worth of food; unfortunately she filled her pocketbook with about $130.00 worth of vitamins. She went through the cash register and paid for the food but did not pay for the vitamins. As she exited the store she was stopped by a loss prevention officer. She was brought back into the store; the vitamins were removed from her pocketbook. The Andover Police were requested by the store and they responded. The Andover Police did not arrest EG but they took her information and told her she would be hearing from the Lawrence District Court. EG is a dental hygienist and she was concerned with the potential effects of having a criminal record. EG retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover.

Attorney Lewin immediately contacted the Police Prosecutor from Andover and obtained a copy of the police report. In addition Attorney Lewin made sure that the case was being set up for a Hearing before a Clerk-Magistrate as opposed to a summons. When a person is accused of shoplifting and the amount in question exceeds $100 the police have two choices. They can file an application for criminal complaint at the Court and request that the Clerk-Magistrate set the application up for a hearing to determine whether or not a criminal complaint will be issued against the accused. The second choice the police have is to file the application for criminal complaint at the court and request that the Clerk-Magistrate issue the criminal complaint without a hearing and issue a summons for the accused to appear before a judge. This is a critical difference. When the application is set up for a hearing then the accused has the opportunity to “kill” the case before it goes any further. When the Clerk-Magistrate conducts a hearing, the Clerk-Magistrate has the discretion to NOT issue the criminal complaint against the accused. If the Clerk-Magistrate does NOT issue a criminal complaint then the accused does not have to go in front of a Judge and, more importantly, NO criminal record is created. There is no publicity of the charge.

On the other hand, if the Clerk-Magistrate decides to by-pass a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing and issues the complaint and a summons then the accused loses that opportunity to “kill” the case, the accused has to appear before a judge for an arraignment in open criminal court, and a CRIMINAL RECORD is created. That is why it is important to advocate with the police at the earliest possible moment to have the case set up for a hearing.

On August 15, 2012 VB, a 28 year old program director at a facility for the handicapped, was caught shoplifting at Kohl’s in Chelmsford. Every year her employer does a CORI check (criminal record check) and if this case showed on her record it would have meant immediate dismissal from her job. VB contacted Attorney Robert Lewin. Attorney Lewin spoke with the Chelmsford Police Prosecutor who said it could be months before the application for criminal complaint was processed and scheduled for a hearing by the Clerk’s Office at Lowell District Court. Attorney Lewin also spoke with the Loss Prevention Officer from Kohl’s. Finally VB received a notice from Lowell District Court to appear for a Clerk-Magistrate’s Hearing. On February 7, 2013 VB and Attorney Lewin appeared for the hearing. Attorney Lewin had secured an agreement from the police prosecutor for a complaint not to issue. The Clerk-Magistrate at the request of both the police and Attorney Lewin continued the hearing for six months to August 9, 2013. If VB is in no further trouble with the police then on that date the Application for a Criminal Complaint will be dismissed by the Clerk-Magistrate and neither VB nor Attorney Lewin will have to appear in Court on that date. As a result of this disposition VB has NO criminal record and her job will not be placed in jeopardy. Because no criminal complaint was issued against her she does not have to appear in front of a judge and no entry is made in the CORI system. It is as if it did not happen.

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