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Las Vegas Theft Defense Lawyer

Theft Defined

Pursuant to NRS 205.0832.1(a) and (b), a person is guilty of theft if they, without lawful authority, knowingly control, convert or transfer property of another person with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.

According to NRS 205.0832(c), a person is also guilty of theft if they obtain goods or services from another person by a “material misrepresentation” with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the goods or services. A material misrepresentation is defined as the use of any pretense, promise, representation or statement of a present, past or future fact that is fraudulent and was instrumental in causing the wrongful transfer the property or services.

Additionally, a person is also guilty of theft if they come across lost, mislaid or misdelivered property of another person under circumstances that would have allowed them to at least inquire about the rightful owner of the property, but they instead keep the property without making reasonable efforts to notify the true owner (NRS 205.0832(d)).

Possible Defenses

No Intent to Permanently Deprive

One of the most common defenses to a theft charge is that there was no intent on the part of the person who took the property to permanently deprive the rightful owner of that property. A good example of this would be a person (we will call him Bob) who is in the middle of mowing his lawn when his lawn mower breaks. Bob goes over and knocks on his neighbor’s front door hoping to ask him to borrow his lawnmower, but no one answers the door. Bob happens to see his neighbor’s lawn mower stored on the side of his neighbor’s house and decides to borrow it in order to finish mowing his own lawn. Although Bob is admittedly borrowing the lawnmower without first getting permission, he assumes that his neighbor won’t mind because they have both borrowed things from one another before. Bob finishes mowing his lawn and goes inside his house to get a glass of water before returning the lawn mower to this neighbor. He sits down on the couch to rest for a minute but falls asleep on the couch instead. Bob’s neighbor returns home and sees that his lawn mower has gone missing. He notices the lawn mower sitting in Bob’s front yard and calls police because he is angry at Bob for once again taking his lawnmower without asking. While Bob’s actions may be inconsiderate, he would not be guilty of theft because he had no intention of permanently depriving his owner of his lawnmower.

Had Lawful Authority

Another common defense to a charge of theft is that the person who took the property had the legal right to do so. One example of this would be a person who buys a rocking chair for his front porch on credit and then never pays his monthly bill. The contract states that if the person doesn’t pay his bill for 60 days in a row, then the furniture company can come and take the rocking chair back. If an employee of the furniture store (we will call him Bob) comes and takes that rocking chair off of the person’s front porch once 65 days have passed without a single payment and then Bob promptly returns the rocking chair to the furniture store, then Bob would not be guilty of theft because the furniture company had the lawful authority to take back the rocking chair for non-payment and Bob was acting as their agent and at their direction.

Promise or Representation Was Not False

An additional defense to a theft charge is that the promise or representation that was made was not actually false.

Misrepresentation Was Not Material

Another defense to a theft charge is that the misrepresentation that was made was not material. An example of this would be a person (we will call him Bob) who hires his neighbor to mow his lawn. Bob and his neighbor agree to a fee of $10 for the service and Bob tells his neighbor that the grass is dry after they have already agreed on the $10 rate despite Bob knowing that the grass has been recently watered. Because the grass is wet, it takes the neighbor 11 minutes instead of 10 minutes to mow the lawn. He is mad at Bob because he had to do an extra minute of work based on Bob’s misrepresentation that the grass would be dry. His neighbor is angry at Bob because he had to do an extra minute of work than he had expected and he had agreed to the $10 fee thinking he would make a dollar per minute, so he feels he should make $11 instead of $10. However, Bob only made the misrepresentation

Efforts Made to Notify True Owner Were Reasonable

Yet another defense to the charge of theft is that reasonable efforts were made on the part of the person finding the lost, mislaid or misdelivered property to notify the true owner. An example of this would be a person (we will call him Bob) who finds a unique tri-metal wedding band inside the bus depot that has the name of John Smith engraved on the inside of the ring. Bob asks everyone at the bus depot whether they have lost a ring. Everyone says no. Bob then runs a classified ad in the local paper under the Lost and Found section where he describes the ring in detail leaving out only the engraved name so that he can verify any person claiming ownership of the ring is actually the true owner. Bob also provides his contact information. He runs the ad for thirty days and doesn’t get a single response, so Bob eventually goes and pawns the ring because he has no use for it. The true owner happens to see his unique wedding band up for sale at the local pawn store and calls police. Bob would not be guilty of theft because he made reasonable efforts to notify the true owner that he had the ring in his possession.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of theft, contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorney at Ferris Law today. We can be reached online or by calling (702) 710-8882.

Our Recent Victories

Our attorney uses the experience she has with particular crimes, judges, and prosecutors to properly advise clients on realistic outcomes and to best anticipate possible strengths or weaknesses in their case. Having this experience allows us to read through fact patterns and quickly pick out all viable defenses that are most favorable to the client. For these reasons and more, we have achieved many favorable results in a wide range of practice areas.

  • Case Dismissed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon
  • Case Dismissed Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm
  • Case dismissed Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm
  • Case Dismissed Charged with Malicious Destruction of Private Property
  • Case Dismissed Battery Domestic Violence
  • Reduced to Misdemeanor Charged with Home Invasion
  • Reduced to Misdemeanor Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon
  • Reduced to Battery Charged with Attempt Murder with a Deadly Weapon