While there are several types of theft, they all involve permanently depriving the owner of the property. A person accused of theft in Galveston, Texas, can use several defenses to challenge the charges.
Types of theft
Some states consider larceny and theft the same, but in other states, larceny is a separate crime. Larceny is commonly defined as the unlawful taking of tangible property or property that can be moved.
Petty theft is theft of property at a lower value, which varies by state but is commonly between $500 and $1,000. Grand theft commonly involves property worth over $1,000, and sometimes specific property worth less can fall under this category. Shoplifting involves the taking of merchandise from a retailer without permission and with no intentions of returning it.
Defenses to theft
The prosecution must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which includes surveillance and witness statements. If they can’t prove the defendant was present at the scene, the jury may find them not guilty.
A defendant may allege they lacked intent to keep the property and they had intended to return it. For example, it is easy to walk out of a store with merchandise not paid for in a cart.
Another defense to theft is the defendant acted under duress, which means under threat of physical harm. However, they must show they had no reasonable way out, and there was fear of bodily harm coming to them.
A variation on duress is a necessity, or an unavoidable emergency situation not caused by the defendant’s actions. For example, if the defendant was running from a threat, they may jimmy open a door or window, which is misconstrued as burglary.
Lesser theft crimes often count as misdemeanors, but they still come with stiff penalties. In some cases, the defendant may be able to work out a plea deal for a first offense.