When Does Borrowing Something Become Theft?

computer-1591018_1280-300x196With close friends and family, borrowing their belongings such as an item of clothing or perhaps a video game or two is common. However, if the relationship goes south for whatever reason, the person whose items were borrowed may accuse the borrower of stealing their belongings.

How does borrowing differ from theft? Theft means a person intended to commit a criminal act. If, for example, a person simply forgot they had the item in their possession and never returned it, a prosecutor may not be able to bring up a theft charge.

Prosecutors may have trouble proving that the borrower’s intention was indeed to steal an item rather than borrowing it. Even if a person quietly kept the item with the hopes its original owner would forget about it, for example, chances may be slim that a court of law would accept “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the intention was to steal.

However, everything changes if there is definite evidence that the intentions were to keep the borrowed item. Now that there is mens rea (the intention to commit the crime), prosecutors may charge a person with theft, depending on how the original owner of the item borrowed wishes to proceed.

There are several common scenarios where “borrowing” may be construed as theft. Perhaps the borrower did not ask the owner’s permission, maybe the borrower told their friends their intentions to keep the item, or the borrower intends to sell the item.

This update is published by The Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. Areas of practice include criminal defense, white collar crimes, drug crimes, fraud, DUI, sex crimes, domestic violence, and more. With over two decades of experience, Mark is committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for his valued clients under difficult circumstances. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 954-500-0003 in Broward or 305-674-0003 in Miami.

This information is provided for educational or informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.

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