Crimes occur every day in New York. However, so too do many events that may seem to be criminal but that are actually legitimate and based on misunderstandings. Because misinterpretations of actions can sometimes be viewed as criminal behavior, many crimes have specific defenses that provide defendants with justifications for their non-criminal acts.
Accusations of theft are common. As such the law provides several specific defenses for people facing such criminal charges. The following defenses are available to some individuals who do actually take property and whose actions are questioned as criminal.
People who honestly believe that articles of property are theirs can assert that defense in court. Many criminal charges require that a person have both the mental intent to commit a crime and that he perform the physical criminal act in order to be guilty. If a person did not intend to take another person's property because he thought it was his own he lacks the intent to commit a crime.
In some cases people realize that they erroneously took the property of others and then try to return the articles to the rightful owners. Though returning property is not a defense to theft, it can help a defendant mitigate the circumstances surrounding his charges. Returning property can demonstrate remorse and understanding of fault, both of which can show favorably on people accused of committing theft.
An additional defense to the charge of theft is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when someone induces another person to take an item for the purposes of charging the taking individual with a crime. Entrapment is sometimes referred to as a "set up" and is often illegal.
Other defense may exist to the charge of theft. While not all defendants will be able to use defenses to attack their criminal charges, those who successfully do may reduce the future impact of their allegations on their lives. A successfully utilized defense can preserve a person's reputation and allow him to move forward with his life after overcoming his criminal charges.