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How is theft defined under Tennessee law?

Theft is a serious crime in the state of Tennessee. In fact, a person arrested and convicted on a theft charge may be forced to spend time in jail and to pay fines for their alleged actions. While most readers of this criminal defense legal blog likely know that a theft involves taking another person's property, the action definition and requirements of a theft under Tennessee law may be unknown to them.

Pursuant to the Tennessee Code on Criminal Offenses, a theft occurs when several conditions are met. First, the alleged thief must have the intent to deprive another person of their property. In other words, a person cannot accidentally take someone's property thinking that it is theirs because such a taking is a mistake and lacks the intent to deprive the other party.

Second, the alleged thief must knowingly take or exercise control over the other person's property. Merely wanting to take someone else's property is not enough. The alleged thief must possess or control the property of the other.

Third, when the alleged thief intentionally takes under the control the property of another person, they may not have the permission of the other person. A person who willingly allows someone else to take their property cannot later claim that it was stolen as consent to a taking of property effectively undoes a claim of theft. While readers of this post may use it as a baseline of knowledge about an important legal concept, no legal advice should be derived from its contents. Specific case guidance should be sought from local criminal defense attorneys.

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