Building a Defense For Theft Charges in Alabama
In order for an individual to be found guilty of theft in Alabama, the prosecution must prove that the property which is alleged to have been stolen belongs to someone else and that the rightful owner had not granted license, permission, or temporary possession of the item. The prosecutor also has to prove that the property in question was taken with the intent to deprive the owner of that property.
When building a defense for this type of case, there are several strategies and appropriate defenses in Alabama. For one, identity is always an issue because people as eyewitnesses are less reliable than many other types of evidence would be. Therefore, unless there is a police apprehension of the defendant at the scene of the alleged theft, that is an area that a theft lawyer in Alabama could use to cast doubt on the state’s case.
The value of the property and the claim of right to the property, if there is any dispute, are issues that the defense may use to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. For example, if a person takes their automobile to a garage for repairs and the person and the mechanic enter into an agreement about the costs of the repair, but the actual cost is substantially more, taking the vehicle, without paying for the repairs, may still constitute a form of theft. Under that scenario, that individual would not have a right to possess the vehicle until the bill is settled. Since there are some disputes about the amount of the bill, those types of cases can be problematic, which can bolster the defendant’s case.
Most theft statutes have various degrees, and one of the primary defenses in Alabama is to mitigate the value of the property in question, once the issue of identification is resolved. Additionally, a crime is generally composed of both an act and criminal intent. In a theft case, an experienced attorney may defend their client by arguing that they did not have the requisite intent to permanently deprive the owner.
Steps to Build a Defense
The first step for an attorney, when preparing a theft defense in Alabama, is to have a comprehensive interview with the perspective client. Often, in the first hour of the interview, the attorney will learn about the circumstances surrounding the alleged theft and about the client personally that will help the attorney to prepare a defense.
Next, they try to complete a background investigation on the person making the claim to determine what motives they may have to report something that might be untrue. Sometimes, a feuding neighbor may claim that something was stolen from their yard or house and the attorney learns that this argument has been ongoing and/or the neighbor is just trying to create difficulty for their client. The value of any evidence or an alibi to support the client’s version of events is important. They look at all of the events surrounding the circumstances to determine what evidence is most helpful in any given case.