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Animal Theft | Vindicated Client

CASE BRIEF:

Criminal defense case study of a client charged with misdemeanor theft and publicly defamed (by the accuser) after taking a stray cat that attacked his cat on his property out into the woods for disposal in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

THE STAKES:

This was a small-town affair. The accuser took to social media and stirred people into a frenzy that resulted in death threats to our client. Our client’s reputation and safety were in jeopardy. The possible penalties for the charge included a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, but the damage to his reputation and associated threats on his safety were also huge factors.

THE GOALS:

Our client wanted to be completely vindicated AND pursue a lawsuit against the accuser for malicious prosecution. Because an essential element of a claim for malicious prosecution is the “dismissal” of the case for which you were wrongfully prosecuted, our goal was dismissal.

THE PLAN:

Our client believed the cat was a stray and that the accuser was lying about owning said cat. Our plan was to gather enough evidence to support our client’s belief and to persuasively present our client’s version of events as a complete and compelling narrative. 

The accuser called animal control 15 minutes after my client took this cat off his property in a trap in his truck. She told them that if a stray cat came in, she did not own it but wanted to adopt it. I got an internal report from animal control that noted this conversation in no uncertain terms. She did not own the cat that my client had taken off his property. The plan was to use this to convince the DA to dismiss the case. After all, how can you steal something that nobody owned and was in no one’s possession?

THE WALL:

We hit a wall in the criminal case with her when she stared the report from animal control right in the face and stubbornly refused to admit that she initially told animal control that it was not her cat. Unfortunately for us, the DA seemed inclined to believe that animal control perhaps just misheard her and she actually HAD told them it was her cat.

THE BREAKTHROUGH:

We cast some serious doubt on the accuser’s credibility by providing evidence that she had made several other false statements about what occurred that day besides whether she owned the cat. Once the alleged victim’s credibility started to fall apart with the DA, we put a nail in her coffin with the surveillance footage from the day in question.  

The footage was from 10 different vantage points in and around my client’s house. Over the course of 20 minutes, every step the cat in question took can be tracked. I tracked it myself and provided the notes of where the cat could be seen, on what camera angle, and went to the DA. The interaction between my client and the alleged victim was also captured. 

The alleged victim had told the police that a verbal brawl took place at the end of my client’s driveway. She went on to say that it was during this brawl that she told our client that this was her cat and that our client was screaming at the accuser and her young son. 

The video clearly showed our client backing out of the driveway with his windows rolled up and driving past the accuser, who was out walking her dog. No interaction whatsoever. It turned out that the accuser only learned our client had the cat with him after he left. She called animal control 15 minutes later, which is the report we had. An hour later she called the police and described this dramatic confrontation of my client while he was stealing HER cat, which she supposedly also told him. None of which was true. The DA came around.

THE OUTCOME/RESULT:

Theft charge dismissed and all of the client’s remedies against the false accuser preserved. 

Case Summary

The Stakes: This was a small-town affair. The accuser took to social media and stirred people into a frenzy that resulted in death threats to our client. Our client’s reputation and safety were in jeopardy. The possible penalties for the charge included a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, but the damage to his reputation and associated threats on his safety were also huge factors.

The goal: Our client wanted to be completely vindicated AND pursue a lawsuit against the accuser for malicious prosecution. Because an essential element of a claim for malicious prosecution is the “dismissal” of the case for which you were wrongfully prosecuted, our goal was dismissal.

The charges:

Theft under $1,000.

Charge Classifications: CLASS A MISDEMEANOR

Relevant Laws for Charge:

 T.C.A. § 39-14-103; T.C.A. § 39-14-105

Outcome Result: Theft charge dismissed and all of client’s remedies against false accuser preserved.

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