Building a Defense for Theft Charges in Gwinnett County

When an individual is accused of committing theft in Gwinnett County there are a number of steps an experienced attorney can take to build a strong defense beginning with a full investigation of who the witnesses were, what they saw, and if they are available for trial.

Once this step is complete, the next step a Gwinnett County theft lawyer will take is to try to find out if there are any types of surveillance videos or any physical evidence that could be used to either show guilt or innocence. An attorney will then talk to the prosecutor’s office to see if it is possible to negotiate a dismissal of the charges or if the case will need to proceed to trial.

Disproving Intent

In order for a prosecutor to prove that a person committed theft, they must show that some item was taken and that there was intent to take the item. In other words, if someone lets an individual borrow their lawn mower and they are going to give it back later that day, they have not committed a theft. However, if that individual changed their mind and decided that they were going to keep that lawn mower and never return it, then they have then created the intent to keep that item. This is referred to as mens rea. Mens rea is what they call the guilty mind, which is the intent to commit theft.

With that said, there is one exception. If a person purchases or takes an item from someone for a ridiculously low value, then that would have given rise to the belief that it was stolen. In other words, if someone sells a car for $10 and the car is worth $10,000, then the buyer should have known that the car was stolen. With this exception, a person can actually be charged for theft in a situation where they should have known that the item was stolen.

Importance of Expert Witnesses

Sometimes there is physical evidence that indicates a person has committed the crime. In that situation, it is important to have an expert witness such as a chemist or a forensic biologist look at the evidence to see if it supports the allegation or if it instead supports innocence.

For example, fingerprints. The public has come to believe that fingerprints are absolutely foolproof but in fact they are not. Many times the police in crime labs will only have partial fingerprints, which they believe links to a certain suspect, but at times this can be shown that the fingerprints are in fact wrong.

So it is very important to have physical evidence examined by the defense or a neutral expert to see if the evidence is what the police say it is.

Legal Compensation as a Defense

Many times people who have items stolen from them or money stolen from them are willing to go to the District Attorney’s Office and say that they are okay with the charges being dismissed or reduced if they have been legally compensated. So that is a factor to consider when defending theft cases. The lawyer may encourage the defendant, if they actually committed theft, to reach out to the victims to see if it is possible to go ahead and start the compensation process—in other words have the victims reimbursed for their loss.