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Defending oneself against federal crimes

Certain theft crimes in North Carolina sometimes fall under the realm of federal crimes. This means that they may have long-lasting consequences. Because of this, it is important that when it comes to allegations of a theft crime, one understands the defense arguments that potentially can be made.

For example, many times an alleged theft is a simple case of mistaken ownership. It is certainly not theft to take something that you own. However, it is important to have evidence of ownership in these situations, to counter such accusations.

Furthermore, one could attempt to counter theft charges by showing he or she not only returned the property, but intended to do so when taking the property. Borrowing is not theft. However, without the intent to return, simply returning stolen property may not be a valid defense. That being said, doing so could in some circumstances put the accused in a better light, thus leading to lesser penalties.

In some cases, intoxication is a defense against theft charges. This is because a theft crime usually involves intent and, depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to argue that a person was so intoxicated by drugs or alcohol that he or she could not form such intent. As in some other defenses, when it comes to intoxication, the person may have intended not to steal an item, but to borrow it instead.

Finally, there is the defense of entrapment. This could be used during a case if a person was pushed into committing a crime that he or she otherwise was not predisposed to do by someone else for the purpose of prosecution. For example, this may occur if police get overzealous during an undercover operation.

Those accused of theft crimes, particularly federal theft crimes, need to understand the defense arguments at their disposal. Because a federal indictment can have such a major effect on a person's life, any accusations of federal crimes must be taken very seriously.

Source: FindLaw, "Theft Defenses," accessed April 7, 2015

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