Property crimes are treated quite seriously in New York. Those who have had their property stolen or damaged are often quick to point the finger, and aggressive law enforcement officers and prosecutors are ready to press the matter. Although this thirst for justice is admirable, it can also be dangerous, as innocent individuals are often left standing in the way of their steamroller justice. Yet, those who know the law and how to utilize it to their advantage can protect themselves and ensure that they will only be punished if they are found guilty of an alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Perhaps the most important thing to know when facing criminal charges is what, exactly, the statutory language says about the offense being alleged. Theft, for example, like many other crimes, contains certain legal elements, each of which must be proven by the prosecution. In the case of theft, or larceny, a conviction can only be obtained, essentially, if two elements are proven.
The first element is an actual taking. New York’s statute on this matter indicates that wrongfully taking, withholding, and obtaining the property of another qualifies for this prong of the offense. The second element involves intent. Larceny only occurs once an individual commits a wrongful taking with the intent to deprive the property’s owner of his or her right to the property.
Depending on the circumstances at hand, one or both of these elements can be difficult prove. Proving intent, especially, requires the prosecution to put on evidence that portrays the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the alleged act. A competent criminal defense attorney will know what to expect from a prosecutor with regard to these elements, and he or she will know how to combat them. Therefore, rather than leave one’s future to chance, an accused individual should take the bull by the horns and ensure that the criminal defense that he or she deserves is put forth.