In Baker, Louisiana, police arrested a 24-year-old man, the last of three suspects to be arrested who allegedly defrauded an elderly couple in a roofing scam. The accused is alleged to have worked with two accomplices. Prosecutors claim the three defrauded the couple of $21,400 nine months ago. The couple claimed that the accused portrayed themselves as roof workers and collected the payment over two months without performing any services.
Each of the three defendants is facing six counts of theft of an asset of the elderly and felony theft. The men in this case, if convicted, may be looking at very serious consequences, including potential prison sentences.
In this case, as in every criminal case, the prosecution must prove every element of the case-including the crucial element of intent-beyond a reasonable doubt. To be found guilty the jury must find the defendants acted with criminal intent. But in this case there are any number of possible explanations of what happened. This may be a matter of a struggling business that was unable to keep up with its obligations in a timely manner. It may be the business had a cash flow problem and was unable to pay its suppliers. It may be a matter of poor recordkeeping and poor communication. All of these might be grounds for a consumer complaint and maybe even a civil lawsuit-but not a criminal prosecution.
Defendants charged with one or more felonies need to defend their rights and build a sound criminal defense. By highlighting weaknesses in the prosecution's case and providing an alternative explanation for what happened, defense counsel may be able to secure a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal. If the evidence against the accused appears overwhelming, it may be possible in a plea negotiation to agree on a reduction of the charges and the sentence.
Source: KATC, "Final Suspect Arrested in Baker Roofing Scam," Sep. 13, 2013