Being accused of stealing can come as a shock. Yet each year, many people face charges theft charges out of the blue.
You may have an item on you, but that does not mean you committed a crime. Perhaps someone else put the thing in your bag or car. Maybe it got there by accident. Even if you knowingly took the article, that does not mean you did anything wrong.
The prosecution needs to prove it was theft
As with all accusations, it is up to the prosecution to prove you broke the law. Thankfully, there are many defenses to charges of theft. Here are some:
- You borrowed it: For taking something to be theft, there needs to be an intent to keep it or move it on. In other words, the prosecution needs to show that you did not intend to give it back to its owner. If you can show that you intended to return the item, you may escape conviction.
- You had permission: Maybe the owner gave something to you but forgot. Perhaps they were drunk or on drugs at the time and cannot remember. Or maybe someone said it was ok, but you did not realize they were not the owner.
- It was yours: Sometimes, there is an ongoing dispute over ownership, which leads to the other party accusing you of stealing. It did not belong to the person accusing you. You cannot steal an item you already own. If you can show it was yours, then you have no charge to answer.
If someone accuses you of stealing from them, it is crucial to look at all defense options. The consequences of a conviction can involve long jail terms as well as fines. Getting a criminal record will inhibit your ability to find employment and tarnish your reputation.