When most people about the crime of ‘theft’, they usually assume this only happens when an item is taken without permission and never given back. However, the state of Minnesota considers theft with a much broader definition. You can be charged with theft for all sorts of things most people wouldn’t traditionally consider. Theft of an idea, theft of access to something, even theft by absenteeism can result in a criminal charge that will stay on your record forever. If you find yourself in one of these five circumstances, it’s more than time to call a Minnesota theft defense lawyer.
1) Theft of Movable Property
Let’s start with the most obvious form of theft: taking an object that isn’t yours. This can be a vase, a car, a photograph. Big or small, valuable or worthless, it’s still theft if the owner no longer has possession and you do. Now, for this kind of theft to be prosecuted, usually the owner needs to press charges so borrowing your dad’s tools probably won’t result in criminal charges but taking your neighbors tools without warning probably will. Even if you didn’t personally take anything, being charged with theft is a serious problem and you’ll want a lawyer handy to guide you out of the legal system.
2) Theft by Failure to Pay
Writing a bad check or telling someone you’ll pay them for work and then failing to do so is another form of theft. This form of theft takes time, materials, or work hours away from someone without compensating them as was agreed on beforehand. This can be either because you didn’t pay at all or because your form of payment fell through, leaving the defendant without compensation for their work or goods. Whether you made a mistake, have been falsely accused, or it started as a misunderstanding if the court finds you guilty of theft by failure to pay, you’ll be held responsible for paying the full stated amount along with any additional consequences the court chooses to add.
3) Theft of a Trade Secret
Theft doesn’t necessarily have to be of something with an already prescribed value. Trade secrets have been acknowledged by the court as inherently valuable to a business as a way to maintain their right to market competition. This is a particularly dangerous charge because you could potentially be charged with ‘paying back’ whoever lost their secrets for the estimated amount that losing that secret may have cost them.
4) Theft by Deprivation
If someone derives an income from an item and the court deems that you intended to use it without paying, in spite of their ownership, or with intent on an adverse claim you can be charged with theft through deprivation. In this case, you may be responsible for paying back the value of the property along with other potential legal consequences. If you only planned on borrowing the item, thought you had permission, or never took it in the first place, it’s time to call a lawyer.
5) Theft Even If You Gave it Back
We’ve covered a lot of different variations on the concept of theft, but this last one you may not have expected. Even if you give the object back in perfect condition with a courteous apology, you can still be charged for having taken it in the first place. If this happens, you might be charged a rental rate by the court for use of the property plus the cost of any damage that may or may not have occurred while it was in your possession.
No matter which kind of theft they charge you with, no matter how petty it may have seemed at the time this is a serious crime that could land you hefty fines, jail time, and a permanent black mark on your record. For help traversing the legal system and stying out of as much trouble as possible, contact us today.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.