Taking someone else’s property or service without their permission can get you into legal trouble. Alabama Code Title 13A, § 13A-8-2 prohibits residents from knowingly obtaining property through deception or exerting unauthorized control over a property. Theft in the state can be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the value of the property or services stolen.
Here are three mistakes to avoid when accused of theft:
1. Not responding on time
If you are accused of theft, especially by someone you know, you may ignore the charge and believe it will go away or hope they will drop it. However, this is not always the case. A charge you deem insignificant may lead to heavy penalties.
It will be best to act accordingly on time. Learn about the accusation and potential consequences of the charge and get professional help. You should, however, avoid contacting the involved party.
2. Believing you have no defense
Undoubtedly, theft cases can be complicated. Nonetheless, you can use different defense strategies. These include arguing you didn’t intend to deprive the owner or that the item in question belongs to you. If you can prove you had good faith when taking the property, the case may be dismissed, or penalties can be reduced. Thus, do not plead guilty, believing you have no defense.
3. Talking to the police without representation
When accused of theft, it will help to get legal guidance when talking to the police. What you say can incriminate you, worsening matters. Thus, politely decline to talk to the police without professional help.
A theft charge in Alabama can lead to high fines and years in prison. If you are facing this charge, you should learn more about the defenses you can use.