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What are the elements of the theft law?

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2022 | Theft

Every criminal statute has elements or parts to it. The prosecutor in a case must prove all the elements in order to get a conviction.

If you face a criminal charge, it can be helpful to know the elements so you can mount a proper defense. Your goal would be to ensure the prosecutor cannot prove at least one of the parts of the statute to allow you to get a not guilty verdict. Looking at the Florida statute for theft, there are three elements.


The prosecutor must prove that you took the property of someone else with intent or knowledge that you were taking something that did not belong to you. For example, if you can show it was an accident or you were not aware the property belonged to someone else, you might use that to defend against this element.


The prosecutor must show that you intended to take the property and never let the owner have it back. If this was a case of misunderstanding where you thought you were borrowing something and you always planned to return it, then it may be difficult for the prosecutor to prove this element.


The prosecutor must prove that you took the property and made it your own or gave it to someone else who thought it became their property. For example, if you stole a car and then sold it to someone else, then the prosecutor could easily prove this element because you had every intention of not allowing the real owner to enjoy the property.

Proving these three elements in court without a reasonable doubt will end in your conviction. But if you can make the court doubt any element, you could win your case.