If a police officer has charged you with theft, you are likely unsure of what to do whether you are innocent of guilty. Theft charges are criminal charges, and if a judge convicts you, those charges can remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. After an officer charges you with theft, you might have many questions about what your next steps are, what the repercussions are, and how you can move on with your life. Are there any defenses to theft? Do you need an attorney? There is no one right answer for theft charges because this will depend on the state you were in when the alleged theft occurred as well as the individual circumstances surrounding your theft case. However, for answers to commonly asked questions, please read below.
If I Am a Minor, Can I Still Be Charged With Theft?
Yes. A court will still hold a juvenile responsible if they committed some type of theft, but depending on the circumstances of the crime, they will likely not face as severe of a punishment as an adult.
Do I Need To Hire an Attorney?
A court will not required you to hire an attorney. However, one of the best things you can do for your case is to hire a criminal defense attorney that has experience specifically in theft cases. After the alleged theft has occurred, avoid giving any statement to police officers or witnesses without having an attorney present. An attorney will ensure that you understand and know your rights, and can make sure you do not say anything that can later be used against you when you go to court.
Are There Good Defenses Against Theft Charges?
Being charged with theft does not mean a judge has convicted you of theft. A criminal defense attorney can help walk you through the possible defenses against theft charges. Some of the most common defenses are:
- Intoxication. If you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the time of the alleged crime, this can go a long way in proving that you were incapable of having the intent to steal someone else’s property. An example of this could be that you took a person’s jacket or their wallet thinking it was yours because you were under the influence of alcohol.
- Right To Property. If you believed the property you “stole” was your property and your attorney can create a strong defense, a judge might dismiss your case if there is good evidence showing that the property was yours or there was a reason to believe it was yours.
- Entrapment. If someone coerced you or induced you in any way to commit theft, your attorney will likely show why the person who committed the entrapment is the one to blame, not you.
- Return Of Property. This defense can only work if there is evidence to show that you intended all along to return the property instead of keeping it, thus only borrowing someone’s property.
Who Can I Contact?
Clearly, there are many options for defense when it comes to theft charges. However, making your own defense claims can be complicated when you do not know the laws. Hiring a burglary lawyer San Francisco, CA offers can give you the best chances of success when making your defenses. Contact an attorney for more information on theft charges.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal defense cases and what to do after being charged with theft.