Borrowing something from someone is usually done with the intention of returning it when you are finished. But sometimes, life happens. Maybe you forgot to return the item. Does this mean that you are guilty of theft? Not usually — but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be accused.
One of the main premises of a theft charge is that you have to have the intention of depriving the rightful owner of the item. This is not typically true when you borrow something from another person. Merely forgetting to return a borrowed item is not theft.
Unfortunately, there are times when a person might misconstrue the situation and accuse the person who simply forgot of stealing the item. The police officers will then be called out to sort the situation out. If this happens, you could be arrested for theft.
These charges are serious, because they can lead to a conviction. Even just being arrested can impact multiple areas of your life, including your ability to get — and keep — a job. For this reason, you need to ensure that you are working on a strategic defense against the charges.
In some cases, the prosecutor or district attorney won’t pick up the charges if you simply return the forgotten item. This is the easiest resolution for this situation, but it might not happen that way. You should be prepared to refute the other plaintiff’s claim that you intended to keep the item away from the owner. This isn’t always easy, but there are options for making this happen, including testimony from witnesses who were aware it was borrowed and not stolen.