Theft is a similar offense to larceny, but, unlike larceny, theft does not require someone to physically move an item into his or her possession. Rather, theft can occur, for example, when someone deceives another person into paying them money or providing them a service, or where someone finds lost property and keeps it without first attempting to locate the owner.
As with larceny, the value of the item stolen can be determined to be the “highest value, by any reasonable standard, of the property or services” which were allegedly stolen.
People can be falsely accused of theft for a number of reasons. In some instances, the person accused of theft had no intention of keeping the property at issue. Rather, an item was rented or borrowed and the borrower forgot to return it or lost it. Other instances can involve money that is, or was, joint property. For instance, business partners might share assets in a joint venture. In the event that the business fails, one party may take money or property that the other party believes he was not entitled to. The accused may very well have been within his or her rights to use or retain the assets at issue.
It is also not uncommon for someone to be overcharged under the theft statute. For instance, an angered victim may seek to profit off of the prosecution of the accused by exaggerating the value of an item with the hopes of the court ordering a large restitution payment.
A skilled defense team can expose these exaggerations—often causing a case to be reduced from a felony offense to a misdemeanor.
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