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Is intoxication a valid theft defense?

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Unfortunately, there are times when intoxication can lead to silly mistakes. For example, if you are out drinking and you accidentally take something home that you thought was yours, but in reality, it belongs to someone else. This is technically theft, and the owner could file charges against you.

In certain circumstances, intoxication may be a valid defense in a theft criminal case. Keep reading for more information.

Intoxication is a valid theft defense in certain cases

According to FindLaw, intoxication may be a defense against theft charges. However, you must be able to prove your intoxication at the time. This may extend beyond alcohol and include other drugs or substances. Typically, if you did not actually intend to steal the item and it was a genuine mistake caused by a level of intoxication, a judge may dismiss the charges brought against you. Keep in mind, however, that the burden of proof is on you to show that you did not mean to steal someone else’s property.

The problem with an intoxication defense

While it may seem like a good idea to proceed with an intoxication defense, it can also open a different can of worms. For example, public intoxication is a different crime entirely and you may open yourself up to charges for that instead. Additionally, if you have to prove that your intoxication was from an illegal substance, that could also result in less than desirable consequences. Showing receipts from alcohol sales at a bar is not difficult, but you may have a hard time coming up with proof of intoxication for anything else.