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What are some common theft defenses?

Being charged with a crime is never pleasant. Neither is going to court. If you have been charged with theft, a trial may very well be in your future. If you are convicted, you could face serious legal consequences that affect you for a long time.

Still, it is possible to defend against criminal charges of theft. The right legal defense can be a powerful weapon in your corner. Even if the evidence points against you, the right strategy could help you and your attorney defend your case. Here are some common types of theft defenses:

Claim of ownership

Perhaps the single most common theft defense strategy is a claim of ownership. Essentially, this means that if you can establish to the court that you had reason to believe that the property was yours, you could possibly avoid a conviction. This usually isn’t as simple as stating that you thought the property belonged to you— you will also need evidence to support your claim.


Sometimes, defendants who were intoxicated at the time of the theft may be able to use this in their defense. A theft conviction requires that the defendant had the intent to steal the property in question. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it could be possible to persuade the court that you did not intend to commit theft.


Entrapment is when a government agent—usually a police officer—induces someone to commit theft in order to arrest and then prosecute them. Entrapment is forbidden, and if it can be shown that you were entrapped by a police officer or other official, the theft charges against you could be invalid.


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