Theft Crime Defense
Theft crimes are crimes that involve the unauthorized taking of the property of another with the intent to deprive them of it permanently. Historically, theft involved three different categories of crime: larceny, embezzlement and false pretenses.
There are a number of legal defenses that may apply in theft cases, for instance, an alleged theft could have resulted from an honest misunderstanding of ownership or it could have been done under duress. It really depends on the specific facts.
Assuming that a theft actually did occur, here are a few of the more typical theft defenses that may apply to a theft case.
Ownership of Property – Someone who’s accused of stealing property may have a valid defense if we are able to establish that they had a good faith belief the property they took was theirs and that they had a valid claim to it. A defendant will need to provide evidence supporting said claim.
Intoxication – If a defendant can establish that they were intoxicated at the time the theft occurred, it may be possible to successfully defend theft charges. Regardless of the type of intoxication, if an individual was unable to form the required intent to steal, they may have a viable intoxication defense. Remember that public intoxication still is a criminal offense in its own right.
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Return of Property as a Theft Defense – Returning stolen property generally doesn’t provide a defense to a charge of theft. Nevertheless it can definitely paint a more sympathetic picture to a prosecutor (for a possible plea deal), and also may help reduce the penalties.
Now, if a defendant is able to establish they had the intent to return the property at the time it was taken, it is common to defend theft charges by claiming the property was just being “borrowed.” You also may be able to defend against theft charges if you simply forgot to return something you borrowed.
Entrapment – This defense applies when an individual committed a crime, but was induced to do so by someone. In a theft case, the entrapment defense could apply if the idea or intent to steal came from the entrapping person, all with the goal of apprehending and prosecuting the targeted individual.
In very rare circumstances, if a victim requests that charges be dismissed, a prosecutor may agree to do so. Normally, the victim of a crime does not have the power to control whether a criminal case moves forward.
A theft charge can result in a misdemeanor or felony offense, and the severity level of the offense largely determines whether fines or jail time will result. … When you get to a level five theft, or stolen property valued at over $100,000 that is going to be presumptive imprisonment.
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