While theft cases are often viewed as open and shut, several legal defenses are available to those charged with theft. In some jurisdictions, “larceny” is another term for theft charges. Depending on the details of the case, California residents who have been charged with theft may have access to these defenses.
Claim of ownership to the property
One of the strongest defenses against theft crimes involves establishing that the person charged with theft had reason to believe that he or she owned the property. However, simply saying, “I thought it was mine,” is not a strong enough defense. Instead, the accused party must prove that he or she had reason to believe they owned the property.
While intoxication is not a good thing, there are times when it can be a defense for theft. If a person’s judgment is clouded by the use of drugs, alcohol, or other chemicals, he or she may not be able to form the required intent associated with stealing property. As with any theft defense, the accused party must provide proof of his or her intoxication at the time of the theft.
Entrapment defenses rely on proof that a person committed a crime after being induced to do so by another party. Entrapment laws apply if the individual facing the theft charge can prove that he or she was convinced to do so by someone who wished to charge the defendant with a crime.
Theft charges are never pleasant, and depending on the value of the stolen property, can incur serious penalties including hefty fines and jail time. It is important to understand the potential defenses that can be used for any individual facing such charges.