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Is intoxication ever a viable defense against theft charges?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Theft & Property Crimes

Legal trouble is not something you ever want to face, but some offenses are worse than others. For example, a conviction for theft can lead to incarceration and expensive fines.

Those who were drunk or incapacitated at the time of the alleged theft often wonder if they can use that as a defense. The answer is maybe, but the intoxication defense has its drawbacks.

What should you consider?

Those affected by alcohol or drugs may be too incapacitated to form the intent (a required component) to commit theft. As a result, you may argue that you would not have stolen anything—purposely or accidentally—if you had not been intoxicated.

Unfortunately, you must show evidence of intoxication for this defense to succeed. Even if the state dismisses your theft charges, you could face other trouble, such as public intoxication or drunk driving charges. Most prefer to explore other defense alternatives that might eliminate all their legal problems instead.

What are some other defenses against theft?

Additional options to consider when the intoxication defense is unsuitable include the following:

  • You own the property and were just retrieving it
  • Someone else committed the crime
  • You forgot to return borrowed property

These defenses require evidence but never forget that the prosecution must prove their side of the case as well. Anytime you raise doubt about your guilt or prevent the prosecution from meeting the burden of proof, it strengthens your defense.

An ideal next step is learning more about the specific theft offense filed against you under Maryland law. When you have this knowledge and understand what it means, it gives you an opportunity to find the best defense for your situation.