A 22-year-old cashier with no prior criminal history found himself in a precarious position when his employer, a San Diego amusement park noticed some disturbing video. During an investigation, security officers saw video evidence of the young man taking money from the till on multiple occasions and putting it in his pocket. The park contacted the police about the incident and although their own report stated the register was always balanced at the end of his shift, and no money was lost, the police charged the man with six counts of petty theft. The man, who has aspirations to join the military was concerned how this would affect his chances to enlist, so he contacted San Diego criminal defense attorney Jessica McElfresh for legal representation.
After speaking with her client, attorney McElfresh thought that she could help and began negotiating with the prosecutor’s office. Apparently, the park has a policy to write-up employees for an unbalanced register if it is less than or greater than the required amount. When overages occur it is usually because customers overlook or aren’t concerned with receiving change for their transactions. Her client explained that a former park manager told him that he did not want to deal with the paperwork involved with these overages and instructed employees to take any leftover change for themselves. Additionally, we tracked the transactions, showing that only a few dollars were taken over the course of six months for a total of $157.
During another meeting with the prosecutor, we explained that although the video appeared condemning, we stated that the employer instructions and the small amount should be considered. Upon hearing this, the prosecutor offered a guilty plea to one of the six charges of petty theft and 15 hours of community service. Our client did not accept the offer because he was still concerned about the negative ramifications of having a theft conviction on his record. Fortunately, we contacted another former employee, who wrote an affidavit confirming our client’s assertion that employees were instructed to take excess funds. We leveraged this supporting evidence during further negotiations and ultimately our client accepted a misdemeanor trespassing charge relating to interfering with a business while on their property. This plea agreement included six months of informal probation and at this time, we are working to terminate the remainder of his probation, which will not hinder his future career prospects or entrance into the military.
The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.