Many people are surprised when they are charged with a crime called "unauthorized use of property." It might be confusing to face charges for something they did not perceive to be theft but is deemed illegal by the state.
If you are charged with this crime, there are a few things you need to know before your court date.
What's the Difference Between Unauthorized Use and Theft?
There is a clear distinction between theft and unauthorized use in many cases. Theft is the taking of property for one's own use, and those charged with theft are usually those who intend to keep the item for themselves.
On the other hand, you can be charged with unauthorized use of property even if you return something after using it or intend to return it. It is illegal to borrow property without the consent of the individual who owns it.
What Items Can Lead to Charges?
Often, unauthorized use of vehicles leads to serious charges. If you took a vehicle without permission and returned it, even if you live in the same house as the owner, you could be facing charges. While the charges may not be as severe as they would be for theft, the punishment can still be steep.
Other items that can lead to these charges include other vehicles, yard equipment, and even real estate. For example, you might be accused of living in a house that you were not authorized to be inside of. Each state has different regulations regarding this kind of charge.
What Punishment Could You Face?
If you are convicted of unauthorized use, there are a few different circumstances you could face. They include incarceration for several years and fines in the thousands of dollars. Your specific punishment may be based on the value of the item you are accused of taking.
The wide range of punishments makes it more important for you to secure an attorney. You will need an advocate on your side to ensure that you are protected when you head into court. You want to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly.
Meet With a Criminal Defense Attorney
A criminal defense attorney can help you determine the steps you need to take to protect yourself. If you are facing charges, you need to ensure that you have the tools you need to provide a strong defense. Call an attorney today to begin building your defense.