Remember that time in first grade when you borrowed Megan Allen’s eraser without asking? She said you had stolen it. As a result, your teacher made you write out, “I must not steal” 10 times.
Now you are older, being accused of stealing is more serious. If someone accuses you of theft, or “larceny” as Mississippi law calls it, you have a few possible defenses:
- It wasn’t me: Does anyone have evidence it was you? Will their evidence stand up in court? Witnesses can often be proved unreliable.
- I was only borrowing it: Maybe you had every intention of parking their car back on their driveway after you took it for a spin.
- Someone made me do it: Whether it’s the local dealer who threatens to beat you up or a manipulative partner who threatens to leave you, if you stole something under pressure from someone else, you might be able to use this as a defense.
- It’s not theirs, its mine: Can the person accusing you prove the item in question is theirs and not yours? There may be rare occasions when this could be a legitimate defense.
- I got confused and thought it was mine: Who has not picked the wrong phone off the table at a party? Picking up the wrong keys and driving off in a shiny red Porsche when you drive a battered blue Dodge may be harder to believe.
- They said I could take it: People sometimes forget what they say, especially if they have been drinking or taking drugs.
- They set me up: If someone purposefully left something out, hoping you would take it, you may be able to claim entrapment.
If you are accused of theft in Mississippi, you need to explore all the defense options available to you. Giving it back, saying sorry, and promising never to do it again may have worked when you were in first grade, but now you could be facing jail time.