Are you a Borrower or a Thief?
People often think if they borrow an item from someone, whether a work colleague or a friend, that this can never be considered a criminal offence. Unfortunately life isn’t quite as simple as that. Even if you have asked a friend if you can borrow one of their valuable items you could be accused of theft if you forget to return it or hold on to it for longer than your friend really wants you to do.
Typically, the key difference between theft and borrowing is the intention to commit a criminal act. This is referred to as mens rea. As long as it was simply a matter of forgetting to return the item after you had been given permission by the owner to borrow it, it would be hard to be prosecuted for this act. The same applies to meeting the burden of proof that your intention was to steal and not borrow. Even if you didn’t say anything more about the item and kept it, the court would most likely not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your intention was to steal it.
However, if there is hard proof that you intended to keep the item you had borrowed for your sole use, the story is quite different. This is when mens rea comes into the picture. The prosecution could impose a theft charge, depending on what the owner wishes to do about it.
Common settings where “borrowing” could be constituted as theft
You failed to get the owner’s permission. For example, you know someone you are sharing an apartment with has a gold necklace which you take without asking permission on a vacation to use for dinner dates. When you return it you find she has reported the missing ring to the police. If you are still talking to one another, she can get the charge dropped, even though she is may still be unhappy that you didn’t get permission in the first place.
Two situations when you may be out of luck
Matters could be worse if you had jokingly put on Facebook that your intention was not to return the ring. The prosecutor could use this as evidence for criminal intent.
If you tried to sell the ring and the prosecutor finds out that your intention was to make a profit this shows your intention and this could lead to a charge of theft.
If you did take the ring and your intention was to return it, but you posted jokes on social media to the contrary, you may need to talk to a criminal defense attorney to help you get off a charge against you. Florida imposes harsh penalties for theft including jail or prison time and fines. Intention beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to prove so you may be able to get off the theft charge if you have an attorney representing you in court like Albert Quirantes Esq., one of the most experienced criminal defense attorneys in Florida. In Miami, call him at his Law Firm office at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.