Every year, many New York residents find themselves charged in cases involving allegations of theft. Many believe they have no recourse other than to plead guilty. There are several possible defenses available to people who have been issued these charges, even when the person charged actually took the property in question.
A person who took property that belonged to another but was intoxicated at the time may have a defense to the charge based on their intoxication. When an intoxication defense is asserted, they will need to show that they were intoxicated to a degree that they did not knowingly take the property. For example, this may work if they were so intoxicated at the time they believed it to be theirs.
Another defense that may lie is when the person taking the property had a good faith belief they had an ownership or interest right in it. This defense will require some evidentiary proof. While return of the property is not a defense in and of itself, it may be one if the person is also able to show they never had the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Less commonly, a person may be able to claim entrapment if the person who induced them to take the property did so in order to prosecute them for the theft.
The exploration of potential defenses to theft charges demonstrates how fact-dependent effective defense strategies are. When a person seeks help from a criminal defense lawyer, the lawyer may review the relevant facts in order to determine the best and most appropriate defensive strategy to take. Just because someone is charged with an offense does not mean they will be found guilty under the law. People may thus want to seek an attorney’s help before simply deciding to enter a guilty plea.