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When Does Borrowing Become Stealing in the Eyes of the Law?


We have all borrowed something at some point from someone with every intention of returning the item. Life can get a little hectic, however, time passes, people forget, and the item never finds its way back to the owner. The owner of the item you borrowed might be angry with you for the delay, but that does not mean what you did should be considered theft. That said, this does not mean there are no circumstances under which borrowing can become stealing.

Below are the elements necessary for borrowing to turn into stealing in the eyes of the law:

  • There was an intent to deprive permanently: Whether or not your simple act of borrowing should be considered an act of theft can hinge entirely on whether you ever intended to return the item to its owner. If you truly meant to return the borrowed item, then you did not intend to steal the item. Criminal cases that revolve around intent are often difficult to prosecute and require a vast amount of credible evidence to establish a person’s guilt.
  • The burden of proof: Theft is, of course, a crime, which means the prosecutor must prove that you had absolutely no intention of returning the item you borrowed and planned to keep it. How can the prosecutor meet this burden of proof? If you sent someone a text message or used another messaging service to brag to someone else about how you plan on keeping the item you borrowed, this could be used as evidence against you to prove that you did, in fact, steal the item rather than borrow it. It is possible you meant it in jest, but a statement like that could easily harm your case.

In cases where one returns a stolen item, this is not usually an adequate defense, though it is possible to obtain a plea deal or even a reduction in the charges you are facing.

Theft Crime Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago

If you are facing charges for a theft crime, it is crucial to obtain skilled legal representation as soon as possible to ensure that your rights and freedom are protected. At the Law Office of Steven Fine, our criminal defense attorney in Chicago has over 20 years of experience and a proven track record of success. Too much is at stake, so reach out to our law office today to safeguard your future and reputation.

Get started on your case and call us at (312) 436-0638 to request a case evaluation with our award-winning criminal defense attorney.