Asked in Criminal Law for Oklahoma

Q: How do I prove I was trying to help, not steal?

I found a phone and wallet at a grocery store 30mins before close. I took it, and tried to find this person. From her DL, I looked her up on FB, and contacted like 3 family/friends (based on last name). I drove to the address on DL, but it was an apartment complex and DL didn't have apt number. So I went home and waited for someone to message me back. Then the she and another showed up at my house (guess from phone tracker?) And I gave them the phone and wallet. In the wallet was a debit/credit card, DL, and w-2 form (with same address as DL). They threatened to beat me up if i didn't give them money, and I quickly shut the door. They called police, police came out, I told them what happened, and they handcuffed me and had me standing outside with no jacket or shoes in Feb. They called me a liar and a thief, even though I showed them where I had messaged this person's people asking them to help me get in touch w her. Then COVID happened, and I missed court. What do I do?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Tracy Tiernan
Tracy Tiernan
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Licensed in Oklahoma

A: Your sory has the appearance of being reasonable, however you need to consult a criminal defense attorney, present him/ her with the proof that you have described and get an opinion as to whether or not it might hold water in a court of law (or help in a plea negotiation with the state). What might strengthen your story would be if you’ve had no prior contact with law-enforcement, particularly anything involving dishonesty or false statement. Any prior convictions or arrests will not help you, Particularly if you have any previous arrests or convictions for Petit Larceny or some other type of theft.

David A. Cincotta
David A. Cincotta PRO label
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Licensed in Oklahoma

A: I agree with Mr. Tiernan. I would also note that if you missed court, you likely have an outstanding warrant that you need to resolve. That can likely be done by securing a bondsman before surrendering, so that you are processed in-and-out of the jail and not arrested at a time when it would be extremely inconvenient for you. You do need to hire a defense attorney, and you should download the data from Facebook demonstrating that you reached out to family/friends of the individual.

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