As a Miami criminal defense attorney firm, one of the questions we are often asked by our clients is – whether borrowing can ever be considered stealing, and if so, under what circumstances? Let us take a look.

When Does Borrowing Become Stealing in Florida?  

Under Florida law, stealing or theft is defined as the act of taking something that does not belong to you – with the explicit intention of not returning it to the owner. In other words, if you borrow something from someone and forget to return it, it cannot be considered stealing.

For example, let us assume that you borrow your neighbor’s camera and forget to return it. Shortly after, you fall out with your neighbor due to various reasons. After a month or two, the neighbor realizes that you still haven’t returned their camera and accuses you of stealing from them.

In the aforementioned scenario, you cannot be accused of stealing. Even if you are charged with theft, a Miami criminal defense lawyer can easily have the charges dismissed, since you did not intentionally try to deprive the owner of their property.

Now, let us consider a different scenario. You borrow your neighbor’s camera and quietly keep it in the hope that they would simply forget about it. Apart from this, you also brag to your friends that you intend to keep the camera or to sell it.

In the aforementioned scenario, you can be charged with theft, since you intended to deprive your neighbor of their property (the camera in question).

Proving Theft Charges in Florida

In Florida, the charge of theft can be proved only if it can be established that the defendant (the person who is facing charges) took the item in question unlawfully and never had the intent to return it to its rightful owner.

As any Miami criminal defense attorney can tell you, establishing the defendant’s intention to commit a crime – commonly referred to as mens rea in criminal law – can be difficult – especially in the absence of tangible evidence.

Tangible evidence – in this context – refers to any piece of evidence that can prove your criminal intent. For example, if you sent text messages or emails to your friends about the item you stole and talked about keeping it or selling it, it can be used to establish your criminal intent.

Common Defenses to Theft Charges in Florida

The most common defenses that a Miami criminal defense lawyer might use to defend you against theft charges in Florida include:

  • No criminal intent (you did not actually intend to deprive the owner of the item in question)
  • Innocent mistake (you mistakenly believed that the item was yours when you took it)
  • Consent (you mistakenly believed that you had the owner’s consent when you took the item)

Looking for a Skilled Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer to Defend You against Theft Charges?

If you or someone in your family is facing theft charges in Florida, attorney Chad Piotrowski can help you. As a former prosecutor, Chad Piotrowski is aware of the tactics that the prosecution commonly uses to secure a conviction in theft cases. He can expertly counter the prosecution’s arguments, question the validity and authenticity of their evidence, and fight tenaciously to have your theft charges dismissed or reduced.

Call Piotrowski Law today at 305-783-3436 or fill out this online form for a free, no-obligations case evaluation.