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Fort Myers Criminal Defense Lawyer / Blog / Burglary, Theft & Vandalism / When Is Borrowing Theft in Fort Myers?

When Is Borrowing Theft in Fort Myers?


People have been borrowing things from each other since the dawn of civilization, and some of the earliest documented legal disputes involved farmers leasing animals to each other. Today, many people in Florida borrow things from each other all the time. Perhaps you realized that you borrowed something from someone and never had a chance to give it back. Maybe you’re already facing theft charges in Fort Myers for something you were genuinely intending to return. Is borrowing really the same thing as theft in Florida?

Borrowing Items and Forgetting to Return them Is Generally Legal in Florida 

In Florida, you can only face consequences for borrowing items if you never intended to return them. As with many other criminal offenses, intent is an important element of theft. Without it, you cannot be convicted. For example, you might borrow a friend’s jacket or bike with the intention of eventually returning it to them. Even if you forget to actually return the item, this doesn’t mean you intended to keep it forever.

That being said, Florida’s theft laws state that you can still face penalties even if you temporarily deprived the true owner of an obtained item. In practice, however, you are unlikely to face any consequences if you borrowed an item and kept it for an extended period of time without returning it.

The Borrowing Defense Does Not Apply to Numerous Situations 

Note that the borrowing defense is not a “get out of jail free card” for all theft charges. You cannot simply state that you were borrowing a stolen item and expect to avoid all consequences. For example, you might have stolen an item from a store at a mall. If you are approached by a security guard who saw you take the item, an explanation that you were “just borrowing” the stolen item is likely to fall on deaf ears.

Even if you get permission to borrow the item, this situation can quickly become theft under certain circumstances. For example, the owner might request that you return the item. If you continuously refuse, the owner may report you to the authorities – and you could face charges. You must also be aware of certain evidence that may be used against you. While you might claim to have forgotten about the borrowed object, other evidence may call this into question. For example, you might have joked with a witness about how the owner will never get their item back. If you hid the item or claimed that you lost it, this could also be interpreted as intent to commit theft.

Find a Qualified Theft Defense Lawyer in Fort Myers 

If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced theft defense lawyer in Fort Myers, look no further than Foley & Wilson. We know that many theft charges are based on honest misunderstandings, and the “borrowing defense” may be viable in many situations. Reach out today to discuss your unique situation in more detail and get started with an appropriate defense strategy.





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