The area of theft is a large and varied area of law. Many different acts constitute theft, and will be grounds for a person to be charged. Since the range of possible violations is extensive, so are the available defenses. If a person has been charged with theft in Southern California, they should consult an experienced Los Angeles theft lawyer to learn about the different defenses available to them.
One of the most common defenses is the defense of specific intent. For a person to be convicted of theft, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person had the specific intent to deprive a person of their property. If a person borrowed something and all evidence indicates that it was to be returned, then there is a strong argument that there was no intent.
The specific intent defense is a defense that can be used for almost every form of theft. The only type of theft that it may not provide a full defense for is Grand Theft Auto. Intent is still required for a person to be convicted of auto theft, but most states also have joyriding laws. Joyriding laws prevent a person from borrowing a car for any reason without consent of the owner. So if the defense is properly argued, the person may not be convicted of auto theft, but there is a chance they will be charged with a violation of joyriding laws.
Although the specific intent defense is applicable to most all theft offenses, there are some additional defenses for certain types of theft cases.
In cases of false pretenses, there is a required element that the misrepresentations made by a person must result in a transfer of ownership. If there is no transfer of ownership, you cannot be charged with theft under false pretenses. For example, a friend tells a couple that he has a car that needs to be sold. He tells the couple that the car is in excellent condition, only a few years old and has many more years in her. The couple agrees, trusting that he is a friend, and agree to buy the car. However, before the title of the car is transferred to the couple’s name, the couple learns that the car isn’t what is represented and decline. The friend cannot be charged with False Pretenses because ownership of the car was never transferred. Although there may be other violations the friend may be charged with, it will not be under false pretenses.
There are an extensive amount of available theft defenses. If a person has been charged with theft, it is important to consult an experienced Los Angeles Theft specialist so that they can fight hard on your behalf to have the charged reduced or dismissed. A theft charge on your criminal record could have significant consequences on future job and educational goals.