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Defenses to theft charges

Theft, known as larceny in some states, refers to the crime of taking someone else's property without their permission. There are multiple categories and degrees of the federal crime of theft, depending on the amount being taken, the person whose property was taken, whether a weapon was involved and the venue at which the theft took place. Penalties also vary depending on the severity of the crime being charged.

However, what many Pennsylvania residents may not know is that it is possible to defend oneself against the crime of theft, even if the underlying taking did in fact take place. While duress is often thought of as the most common defense to theft, there are others available to those who are facing federal charges of theft that have the potential to change rest of their life.

If the person who has done the taking has a valid belief that the property was theirs or that they had a legal right to it, they may be able to defend themselves. But, the accused would need to provide evidence to support their claim -- simply claiming ownership is not enough. If the accused was intoxicated at the time of the taking, it might be possible to demonstrate he or she was not able to formulate the intent to commit the crime. In this scenario, the type of intoxication does not make a difference.

It might be possible to defend oneself against theft charges by showing they only borrowed the property in question or forgot to return the property. There are also other defenses available, such as entrapment.

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