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Case of female burglary suspect, 70, raises many questions

Means, motive and opportunity -- those are the three things that police tend to focus on when investigating a crime. The hope is that by tracing a suspect's activity and aligning those elements, the chances that the actual culprit will be brought to justice are greatly improved.

But there are many things that can color the available evidence in any given case. In some instances, those factors can suggest guilt where there really isn't any. In others, other factors such as the suspect's mental condition may be something that deserves to be taken into account.

Regardless of the circumstances, however, any person charged with a crime has the benefit of constitutional protections that place the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in the hands of the prosecution. And to assure that a defendant's rights are upheld and fought for, an experienced criminal attorney should be consulted.

Competency of the defendant may be something that comes into play in the case of a woman in California facing charges of burglary and possession of stolen goods. The 70-year-woman is said to make San Francisco her home, but according to police she is believed to be responsible for two burglaries at a Lutheran church about 30 miles away in Palo Alto.

The possession charge stems from the discovery that she had two guitars with her at the time she was arrested. Police say one of them is worth $5,000 and they suspect the woman was trying to sell them for cash.

Officials say they have evidence that she had the means and the opportunity to commit these alleged crimes, but what may be lacking is motive. Additionally, some readers raise the question of whether this woman might be suffering from old age dementia. If her mental condition is an issue, it definitely deserves to be examined as part of her defense.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Palo Alto police: Woman, 70, arrested for burglarizing same church twice," Mark Gomez, March 18, 2015

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