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Orlando Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Can You Be Charged with Theft for Borrowing an Item?

Can You Be Charged with Theft for Borrowing an Item?

People borrow items from their friends and family all the time. Perhaps you wanted to borrow your friend’s jewelry, or part of their video game collection. You may ask to borrow the item, and your friend may agree. Unfortunately, there are times when the legal act of borrowing an item can result in charges of a theft crime.

An accusation of theft that resulted from simply borrowing something is very difficult to face. It will likely affect your relationship with your friend or family member, and you may even face jail time. Below, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer explains when a borrowed item can turn into a theft charge.

Mens Rea in Criminal Cases

To be convicted of a theft crime, a person must have the intent to take someone else’s belongings without their permission and with the purpose of depriving them of it. Mens rea is a legal term that refers to the intent to commit a criminal act.

When a person borrows an item from another person, they ask the owner if they can do so. If you simply forgot to return the borrowed item, that does not mean you acted with mens rea, or that you intended to commit a crime. In this situation, it is extremely difficult for the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intention to steal the item.

When is Borrowing Considered Theft?

Although in most cases, borrowing something from somebody else is not considered theft, there are times when you may still face charges. These include:

  • You did not ask for permission: One of the elements of the criminal offense of theft is that the defendant did not ask for the owner’s permission to take the item. Even if you know the owner does not use the item, you must still ask for permission to take it. If not, the owner may report the missing item to the police as being stolen and you could face charges.
  • You said you were going to keep the item: Stating that you are going to keep the item, even jokingly, can be seen as intent to deprive the owner from their belongings because it shows intent.
  • You tried to sell the belongings: Selling an item that is not yours also shows criminal intent because you profit from the transaction. In this case, it is not only probable but likely that you would face criminal charges and that the prosecution would argue you stole the item in order to sell it.

Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Today

It is not uncommon for seemingly small mistakes and misunderstandings to lead to criminal charges. When that happens, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can prove that you had no intention of stealing to give you the best chance of beating the charges and retaining your freedom. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to request a consultation with our skilled attorney so we can get started on your case.


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