Should my husband plead guilty or not guilty regarding felony charges for a crime he didn’t realize that he was committing?

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Should my husband plead guilty or not guilty regarding felony charges for a crime he didn’t realize that he was committing?

My husband, picked up some cable or telephone wire off the side of the road after it had been there for weeks. He really didn’t think he was stealing, he just thought it was broken or otherwise unusable because it was just left it there. However, it turned into a nightmare when I had phone service hooked up and the telephone company saw the wire casing. They called the cops and now he has been indicted on felony TOP 1st charges. We can’t afford lawyer; this is his first offense other than traffic violations. We are a struggling family of 5 and I’m scared to death. What do you think the outcome will be given the circumstances?

Asked on April 27, 2012 under Criminal Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you can't afford an attorney, you have a right to have one provided for you--that is your Constitutional right. Do NOT deal with this situation on your own--either retain an attorney or ask the court to appoint one. There is no way to predict what will likely happen from what you write--there are too-many variables, including the value of the wire, the personality of the prosecutor, how hard the phone company pushes, etc.; however, bear in mind that a felony could potentially result in a year or more in jail and also creates a criminal record that will impact future employment, credit, rentals, etc. You want an attorney to help your husband--a lawyer's assistance will maximize the chance of a successful defense, or at least negotiating to a much lower offense and punishment your husband could more safely plead to. Get an attorney before pleading or doing anything.


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