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Oates Wins Complete Exoneration in Court for Man Charged With Robbery

Northern Virginia criminal attorney Jonathan Oates’ client was facing his second major felony charge after just being released from his first – a robbery charge in Prince William County. Robbery carries a stiff penalty in Virginia – 5 years to life in prison and a conviction as a violent felon. Fighting a new robbery charge would be a major uphill battle.

After speaking with him in jail, Oates knew that his client was innocent. His client was with a friend and co-defendant who had stolen a pizza from a 711 and gotten into an altercation with the store clerk in the parking lot. Not knowing that the pizza was stolen and believing that his friend was in a fight, the client got out of the car to assist and see what was going on. He watched the altercation and stepped in between the two men. Then, the client picked up the stolen pizza and left the scene. Oates’ client never stole the pizza, did not assault the store clerk, and had no idea that a robbery had just taken place. This was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When the police arrived at his home a short time later, they had already assumed the client was involved and had committed a robbery. They placed him under arrest. Oates fought to get his client released on bond – a difficult task in Prince William County where robbery carries a presumption against the bond and his client was currently on parole for a prior violent felony. Once he was finally released on bond, a trial date was set.

Oates secured security camera footage from the 711. The security camera showed just what the client said it would, that he did not participate in the fight and did not know the pizza was stolen. However, prosecutors and police were not willing to drop the case.

Believing his client had committed no crime and in his client’s innocence, Oates declined all plea offers and fought the case at trial. After cross-examining the witnesses and arguing the case, Oates persuaded the judge of the true outcome; that his client was innocent and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ultimately, the judge held that not only was the robbery charge not supported by evidence but also that the evidence showed that Oates’ client did not even know that a robbery had occurred.

The client was found NOT GUILTY of all charges and walked out of the courtroom a free man, avoiding all jail time, a violation of his parole, and a large amount of time in jail.