Although property crimes are on the decline, theft is still one of the most common California crimes. Many Californians find themselves facing theft charges every day. Defending theft charges can be difficult, and so many people think they have no chance in court. This may lead to them pleading guilty before even speaking to an attorney. It is generally a bad idea to plead guilty to any crime without first consulting with an attorney. There could be defenses to your charge applicable to your case. To figure out whether you have a good defense to your charges, you will need to understand what the prosecution must prove to convict you of theft.
In every theft case, the intent to steal must be proven. This means the California district attorney who is prosecuting you must prove that you had the intent to steal or otherwise deprive the owner of their piece of property for a significant period of time. The district attorney must also prove the property did not belong to you, and the owner did not give you his or her consent to take the property. If these three factors are proven, you could be convicted of theft. There are a number of possible defenses to a California theft charge. One may be useful in your case, so speak to an attorney about your options before you appear in court.
Intent must be present for a conviction. Therefore, claiming a lack of intent to steal could be a useful defense. If you did not intend to steal the piece of property, but nevertheless accidently acquired it, you could have a strong defense in court. Similarly, you may have a good defense if you took the item but had no intent to deprive the owner of it permanently or for a significant period of time. For example, if you took someone else's car without his or her consent but did so to simply drive around the block, you would have a good defense to a theft charge.
Having an ownership right of the piece of property you took could also be a good defense. You cannot be convicted of theft if the item or property you stole was actually yours or jointly owned by you and someone else. For example, if a friend stole something of yours and you in turn took it back from them, you have not committed theft. Having been given consent to take the item is another possible defense to a theft charge. If you in fact had the owner's explicit consent to take the piece of property, you have not committed theft. Another good defense is that it was not you who stole the item or property. It is not uncommon for people to be falsely accused of theft. Unfortunately, many of these people are charged, convicted, and sentenced without ever having committed a crime. Whenever you are falsely identified for a crime, you should speak to an attorney about how you can defend your rights.
Always keep in mind that having an applicable defense does not guarantee your case will be dropped. It may take the work of a skilled California criminal defense attorney to ensure your defense is argued properly and is successful. An attorney can evaluate your case and the evidence against you and suggest possible strategies for your defense. Trying to defend yourself in court may end poorly. Even if you think you have a good defense to your charges, you must know how to present it and argue it convincingly to have your charges dropped. If you are facing theft charges and have questions about your rights and your case options, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Even if you are innocent, make sure you have a skilled California criminal defense attorney on your side in court. Only then can you be ensured the highest chance of preserving your freedom and dignity.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about theft charges, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we know how to prepare you to face your theft charges, giving you the best chance at success. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.