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Understand the elements of a theft charge

Every day Tennessee residents take and borrow items of property from their friends, family members and neighbors. It is not uncommon for a person to lend their property to another so that the other may use it for a particular purpose; in situations such as this the original owner of the property likely expects that the borrower will return the item of property when they are done using it.

Borrowing someone's property is not theft. For a theft to occur two very basic elements must be met: first, someone must take someone else's property and second, the taker must intend to deprive the original owner of that property indefinitely. An action and an intention are required for a theft charge to be proven and without one or both of those requisite elements such a charge may fail.

Charges of theft can vary. A charge of petty theft generally applies when the monetary value of the item taken is relatively low. However, a charge of grand theft may occur if an accused person allegedly takes a high value item from someone else. Grand theft charges are often met with more serious penalties than charges of petty theft.

Individuals who are charged with theft may have defenses available to them depending upon the facts and circumstances of their cases. Mistake may serve as a defense if a person did not know that an item of property was that of someone else's. Ownership of the property may also provide a defense if the accused can show that the item in question was actually theirs. Other defenses exist to theft charges and readers of this blog are encouraged to seek their own criminal defense counsel concerning their pending criminal charges. This blog provides information only and should not be read to offer legal guidance or advice.

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