If you are the clerk at the 7/11 around the corner from my home or my office, then you probably know me. Sometimes that convenience store price premium is worth not fighting the lines at HEB. Bottom line? If you’re the one behind the register, you probably recognize me.

Coffee in the morning, fountain drinks in the afternoon. My legal assistant now keeps me well stocked on Folgers and Cokes and Mountain Dews, but she wasn’t always around – and that’s only #168 on the list of ‘why I appreciate her’. But as usual, I digress.

So, I used to go to the closest Stop-N-Rob on a regular basis, and that sets the scene for the rest of this story.

One day, while preparing for eating lunch by myself, I stopped by the 7/11. I was planning on perusing the magazine counter, so I would have something to do while lunching alone.

Probably out of habit, I went and filled up a monster fountain drink. I’ve always been a sucker for that “Yes, it’s twice as much as you need, but it’s only 20 cents more” marketing. Then over to the magazine rack, to see what there was to offer.

Ever notice that there’s really not much worth reading or that catches your fancy in those magazines? Why do they only stock People, and Star, and Monster Truck Madness Review? 

Maybe the Economist. Or Consumer Reports, but no, those are unavailable. And they cost 5 to 6 dollars? I don’t need any of these.

So I walked out to the car.

And as I started to put my keys in the door, I had a mini-heart attack.

I had just deliberately and obviously walked in, filled up a soda, and walked out without paying.

Now, here’s why my story – thankfully for my sake – diverges from some of my potential clients.

No one had seen me. Barney Fife hadn’t just parked his patrol vehicle. I ran back in immediately, stood in line, and even the clerk didn’t say anything.

He hadn’t noticed.

But…

I had walked out the door without paying. If I had been not just absent minded, but unlucky as well, my bar card could have been at stake.

Worst case realistic scenario, I would have been ticketed, not even arrested for Class C Theft. But what then? Take the ‘deferred disposition’ and get the hell out of Dodge with my ‘guaranteed’ dismissal? Expunge the whole thing. Forget about it.

Or roll the dice at jury trial, and hope my side of the story held up? Risking a conviction for theft – a crime of moral turpitude, and a conviction that could cost me my livelihood.

I think about that scenario often – when I tell my clients the “Do X, Y and Z and get your case dismissed” offer. Is that a good deal or not, when you are factually innocent, but the potential testimony at trial could get you convicted?

More on several related topics soon.