In order for a Tennessee resident to successfully use one of the following defenses to a claim of theft, the facts of their particular criminal case must substantiate the validity of the propounded defense. Just as prosecutors must prove the elements of the legal charges they lodge against individuals, so too must criminal defendants support their criminal defense responses with evidence. This post will mention several of the defenses individuals may use to counteract their theft charges, but readers should understand that this post is not comprehensive and these defenses may not be applicable to every case.
One defense that may completely eliminate a pending theft charge is ownership of the item by the alleged thief. Theft involves the taking of property that is not owned by the alleged thief. Therefore, if a thief is the actual owner of the item that is alleged to have been stolen, then the elements of the theft charge cannot be supported by the facts of the claim.
Another defense to a charge of theft is intoxication. Intoxication often causes individuals to lose their capacity to think clearly. As a charge of theft requires an alleged thief to have intended to take something that was not theirs, if the individual could not have formed the requisite intent to take the item then there is no way for a prosecutor to prove that they intended to steal from another person.
Finally, a theft defendant may show that they returned the item they allegedly stole and therefore did not intend to deprive the actual owner of the good in support of the elements of the theft charge. Return of property is not always considered a complete defense to a claim of theft, but it may help a defendant prove that they understand the wrong the allegedly committed.
Other defense may exist to theft charges. In order to best prepare a defense strategy to a pending theft charge, a person facing theft charges may discuss their legal needs with a criminal defense attorney.