Recently, in Watkins v Commonwealth , a Virginia appeals court reversed the defendant’s grand larceny conviction because a loss prevention officer was allowed to testify about the price of a stolen pair of jeans without producing a price tag for the jeans. The reason this was improper was a rule called “best evidence.” In felony theft cases, such as this, the government must prove the value of items stolen is over a certain amount. Here, the best evidence of the value of the stolen jeans would have been the price tags themselves. However, the loss prevention officer was allowed to testify about his memory of the price tag when he failed to produce them. And he wasn’t even required to explain why he didn’t have the tags.
Watkins is a solid example as to why those charged with offenses much obtain a good defense attorney. There are very specific rules of evidence that may come into play at trial. Here, those rules of evidence changed the outcome.
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