Many people fear that they will be accused of a crime of theft if they forget to return borrowed items to somebody. No matter how upset an owner might be, it is not a crime to forget that you borrowed an item if you did not intend to keep it from its owner. In order to be accused of stealing, you would have to have intent to never return the item and the rightful owner would have to show this.
Intent to commit a crime is know as ‘mens rea,’ which shows if something is a crime or not under the law. To be accused of theft, you must meet the demands of ‘specific intent,’ which means that you committed a crime with intent to deprive someone of their item. If you can show that you legitimately forgot to return a borrowed item, then you did not have intent to keep it. To establish guilt, the person you borrowed from must be able to show that you did not intend to return the item. Perhaps they would do this by showing text messages stating that you were not going to return it to them.
From the Prosecutor’s Angle
The prosecution has to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not intend to return the borrowed item. If the evidence is stacked against you and you have confessed that you are not going to return the item, this might be enough. However, if you show that you were never asked for the item back and that you forgot about it in the back of your garage, then the case cannot move forward.
Many people wonder if they will be charged with theft for hanging onto an item longer than intended. This is typically not the case, but you might have questions. Let us help you at the Law Office of Peter Blair. Call us for more information.