Theft is a crime that allegedly results in one person losing property to the taking of another. At its core, theft requires an action and intention for the defendant to be found guilty. Generally, the action is the alleged taking of another person’s property, and the intention is the defendant’s objective of retaining that property and not returning it to the alleged victim.
Mississippi law classifies theft of larceny crimes based on the value of the allegedly stolen property. When a person is charged with a theft crime, they can face heavy sanctions, including fines and imprisonment. To combat the charges that are lodged against them, they can solicit the help of criminal defense attorneys to advocate for their needs.
Attacking the elements of a theft charge
One way that a theft defendant and their attorney may attack theft charges is by offering evidence that refutes the prosecutor’s claims. A defendant may deny that they took anything from the alleged victim, or that if they did take something, it was borrowed and that they intended to return it. Without proving all of the elements of a criminal charge, a prosecutor does not meet their burden of proof to seek a conviction.
Affirmative defenses to theft charges
Affirmative defenses are defenses that do not refute the elements of a prosecutor’s case, but rather explain them in a way that dispels culpability on the part of the defendant. When it comes to theft charges, there are several affirmative defenses that may support defendants’ cases:
- Mistake of ownership: A defendant took property and intended to keep it but believed that it was actually theirs.
- Entrapment: A defendant was enticed to take property by police officers in violation of the law.
- Return of property: Returning property may not undo theft charges but may mitigate penalties if a defendant is convicted.
There are many ways that individuals can approach the defense of their theft charges. This post does not provide any legal advice and should not be relied upon as case-specific guidance. Knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys are excellent resources for men and women who are unsure of how to protect their rights during their theft trials.