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I Didn’t Commit Illinois Theft. I Borrowed Something and Forgot to Return it!

May 23rd, 2016 at 7:50 am

I didn't commit Illinois theft, Rolling Meadows Shoplifting AttorneyEveryone can relate to the experience of borrowing something from someone else. You may have either borrowed something yourself, or have lent an item to someone else. Lenders often become upset when the property that they have lent does not get returned to them. Sometimes people find themselves facing theft charges when they merely borrowed something and forgot to return it. It could be an honest mistake—mistakes happen to the best of us. But what do you do when you are being charged with criminal theft because of a little mistake?

Theft in Illinois

Under Illinois law, in order to be convicted of theft, it must be shown that the criminal defendant:

  1. Knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over property belonging to another;
  2. Never intended to return the property to the owner.

The good news is that theft requires an element of intent—a thief must have the specific intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property permanently. As a forgetful borrower, you lack the specific intent to commit theft.

But Intent Can Arise After You Borrow the Item

So long as you honestly mean to return the item you borrowed, you lack the specific intent to commit theft. However, it is possible for you to develop this specific intent at some point after you borrowed the item. For instance, if you borrow a sweater with the intention of returning it, but then wear it, decide you love it, and then decide you will not return the sweater you borrowed to its original owner, then you have manifested the specific intent to turn your borrowing into an actionable theft. If you bragged about how the sweater belonged to someone else, and that you borrowed it and never plan on returning it, then you have incriminated yourself by expressing your specific intent to deprive the rightful owner of his or her sweater.

Failure to Return a Rented Item

Some people rent items for a set period of time, with the intention of returning the item. Electronics, home appliances, furniture, and rental vehicles are all examples of property that is regularly rented and returned. Theft charges can be brought in situations where a borrower fails to return the property on time, or returns an item but fails to pay the rental rate for the whole time the item was in the borrower’s possession.

Failure to return rented items is a common problem that rental companies face, and they are very eager and quick to prosecute borrowers who do not return items on time or fail to pay for a full rental duration. This is because the rental companies have a legally binding contract with the borrower, and failure to return the item or pay for it is not only a criminal offense, but is also a breach of the rental contract.

Reach Out to Us for Help

Theft charges are scary, especially when you merely forgot to return something. Anyone who is facing theft charges needs to consult with an experienced and tough theft lawyer immediately. Please contact a skilled Rolling Meadows shoplifting attorney at our office for help. We can assist you throughout each step of your case.


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