Can I be charged or arrested for theft without evidence? 60 Answers as of June 26, 2013

A friend accuses me of stealing his laptop without any proof. I didn't steal it, but how can I prove that I didn't?

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Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
You don't the law presumes innocence. The State has to prove that you did it.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/27/2012
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
If someone just assumes that you stole their computer then the police will not have probable cause and the judge will not sign the arrest warrant unless he lies and says he saw you take the computer. Even if he does that it would be suspicious and they would ask him why he did not follow you or call the police at that time. They will realize that he was making a false report and arrest him.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/23/2012
William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
A person's word may be enough evidence. Fortunately, you do not have the burden of proving your own innocence. Instead the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state fails to do so, regardless of whether you present any evidence, then the law requires a not guilty verdict.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 8/23/2012
Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
You cannot prove a negative, you may have to go to trial. You can be arrested on Probable Cause. If it is a felony, ask for a preliminary, and the friend will have to prove he even had a laptop. You have to have some evidence. Your friend's statements to police are evidence.
Answer Applies to: Wyoming
Replied: 8/23/2012
Larry K. Dunn & Associates | Larry K. Dunn
A person can be arrested for a crime if the police have probable cause that a crime has been committed. A prosecutor can only file a formal charge if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed. Testimony of a victim is evidence if believed by the police and prosecutor.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 8/23/2012
    Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
    The better question is how can he and/or the police prove that you did. If you are under investigation or if charges have already been filed, retain an attorney immediately to represent you. Under no circumstances should you speak to the police or anyone else without an attorney present.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    You don't have to prove your innocence. The government must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. "Proof" is what a jury believes. Whether or not they are convinced you did anything depends on all the facts. It sounds like you're just accused and not charged. Keep your mouth shut and this will probably blow over. If you are contacted by the police, decline to make any statements until you consult with an attorney. If you're charged, get that attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    If they charge you with the theft, they will have to have enough evidence to show probable cause that you committed the theft. If the evidence is not produced, the case would be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Selleck Legal, PLLC
    Selleck Legal, PLLC | Stacey Selleck
    The friend can make a police report. The police can then investigate to determine if there is enough evidence to get an arrest warrant for you. They then turn that over to the prosecutors office and they have to authorize it. If charges are brought against you and you are arrested or are issued a ticket you will want legal representation to defend you in court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    You do not have to prove you dud not steal it, the state has to prove that you did.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    The Law Office of Lynn Norton-Ramirez
    The Law Office of Lynn Norton-Ramirez | Lynn Norton-Ramirez
    Your friend's testimony is evidence. The case can proceed on with the testimony. Don't speak to the police and obtain or apply for an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    The question should be, how can your friend prove that you stole the computer? If the authorities get a warrant to search your premises, I would allow them to search, but it is one's word against the other, which in my opinion is not sufficient proof. If arrested, hire a good defense attorney who can review all the evidence against you, and determine the best resolution of the case, although I doubt you will be chagred in the first place.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    You don't need to. He needs to prove that you did. Remember "presumed innocent until proven guilty".
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    In a criminal matter, the prosecutor has the burden of proof. This can be done through several different forms of evidence (including testimony from witnesses). Also, a city attorney or district attorney would be the one to press criminal charges. Your friend can report the issue to the police, who may then turn over to the prosecutor...who will then decide whether or not they have enough proof to make a case. From what you posted, it doesn't sound like they do.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    The State would have to prove to a judge or jury that you were guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    He must prove you stole the laptop.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    As a defendant in a criminal case, you are innocent until proven guilty. They have to prove that you stole the lap top; however, if charges are filed, there would have to be some kind of supporting evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The mere statement of wrongdoing, if believed, can be enough to ope an investigation and perhaps the filing of charges. That is not the same a s a convction. A witness statement,if believed, is sufficient to obtain a conviction. You do not prove a lack of guilt, the prosecution must prove that you are.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Jared C. Winter
    Law Office of Jared C. Winter | Jared C. Winter
    You don't have to prove anything. When you are charged with a crime, the burden of proof is entirely on the accuser. If you have actually been charged, then you should hire a lawyer to represent you. If you can't afford one, then you should go to your court date and ask the judge to appoint the public defender to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    CAN police and prosecutors charge you? Of course. And they will if they think they can convict you. No one can ever prove they are innocent. The best you can hope for is the prosecutor not being able to prove you guilty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Mark Bruce
    Law Office of Mark Bruce | Mark Corwin Bruce
    You got that backwards, hoss. The cops have to get proof that you took it. Someone saying you took it without saying they saw you take it is pretty poor proof. My suggestion: When the cops call tell them that you will not interview with them because you are asserting your 5th Amendment rights and that you want to have a lawyer present. They will say "if you have nothing to hide, why not talk to us?" the answer is, the only reason they're talking to you is that they don't have enough evidence on their own to arrest you. No matter what you say, they can trick you into saying something suspicious which can justify an arrest.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    In answer to your first question, you should not be arrested without any evidence. However, the testimony of another is still evidence which could lead to your arrest. The answer to your second question is, you don't have to prove anything. The DA has the burden to prove you committed a crime, you do not have to prove your innocence.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of James Gandy
    Law Office of James Gandy | James Gandy
    Testimony - what witnesses say - is evidence. Most cases are based solely on testimony. If your 'friend' continues to claim that you stole something, it is possible that charges could be filed against you. If such a case is based solely upon one person's word, particularly a situation like yours, it is unlikely that the D.A. or police would have much interest in it. Of course, this depends upon what other evidence your 'friend' may have.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    Do not make any statements upon arrest just tell the police I want a lawyer - no matter what do not consent to any searches just say I want a lawyer get a lawyer it is the prosecution job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you stole the laptop - if you had nothing to do with it, what could you say other than I do not know what you are talking about. do not fall into the trap of trying to prove your innocence - it is impossible just say I want a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    If your friend called the police, but there is no evidence against you, the police might not file a report against you with the District Attorneys Office. If a police report was filed, the DA might decide not to file charges against you because there is no evidence. If the DA files charges against you, you will have an opportunity to be heard before the Court by going to trial. I would be cautious about what you tell the police if they want to talk to you. What you say can be used against you in a court of law. If you seek private counsel, we provide free consultations and reasonable payment plans.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith | Mark L. Smith
    You don't have to prove anything. He has to prove that you did.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    A defendant is not required to prove his innocence. Instead, the State is required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If your friend is accusing you of stealing his laptop, but has no evidence that you did so, chances are good the DA won't take the case. I think you need a new friend.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    MckennaLaw
    MckennaLaw | Keven A. McKenna
    No. There has to be evidence. Have you had possession of his laptop? Did he give it to you? Evidence as to be place before a jury proving beyond any reasonable doubt that you intentional stole someone else's possession. More is needed than he said yes and she said no.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You can't prove a negative, they must prove you did.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    You can't prove a negative.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Natty Shafer Law
    Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
    Generally, prosecutors and police do not like to file charges without more evidence than your friend's mere suspicions. However, prosecutors have made odd choices before. Unless more evidence emerges, you are unlikely to be convicted.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    John P Yetter | John Yetter
    As a defendant it is not your job to prove anything. The state carries the burden of having enough evidence to charge, try and convict you. You should hire an attorney to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Offices of Steven R. Hunter | Steven Hunter
    You don't have to prove anything. You are presumed innocent and the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. However, if your "friend" is willing to testify that you stole his computer, that testimony is evidence. Whether or not it amounts to proof beyond a reasonable doubt depends on many factors. If you have been charged, you need a lawyer to help you fight this case.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    You cannot prove that you did not steal it, because you cannot prove a negative. After your "friend" provides documentation to authorities that he did in fact once own a laptop, you might be arrested. At that time, you will have to think up a reason that "your friend" would lie and have you arrested.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    If a prosecutor believes sufficient evidence exists to support probable cause for the charge, you may be changed. Generally, the word of another person alone would be insufficient.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    First of all, law enforcement would have to be notified. Then the police would have to investigate. If you didn't take it, you should be able to show that you didn't have means, motive or opportunity. Beyond that, remain silent and hire an attorney of the police get involved.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    You can be charged , but you would not be convicted. YOU can't he must prove his case.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    You don't have to prove anything. If you are charged with stealing the laptop the State has the burden of proving that you stole it.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Herschel Bullen
    Herschel Bullen | Herschel Bullen
    If there is truly no evidence, the charges should be dismissed. If it is a fact that there is "no evidence," the charges should never be brought. However, what should not happen sometimes does because prosecutors sometimes, although extremely rarely, file charges before they are fully informed of all the facts. You are never under any obligation whatsoever in a criminal case to prove your innocence. You are innocent until proven guilty. The State has the burden of proving each and every element of the offense against you and you have an absolute right to remain silent, with no unfavorable inferences drawn from the fact that you remain silent. No one is every found "innocent" in our system of justice; they are found *guilty* because the State has met its burden of proof, or *not guilty* because the State has failed to prove all of the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    T.K. Byrne | Timothy K. Byrne
    How can he prove you did steal it?
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Your friend's accusation is evidence! You don't need to prove anything. You just need to exercise your right to remain silent, because once the authorities decide you did it, no matter what you say it will be twisted around to incriminate you. So, speak not a word unless it is to your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    The person that is requesting a warrant will have to provide proof to a magistrate that you committed the offense. If that person does not have sufficient proof no warrant should issue.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    MatthewR. Schutz, Esq | Matthew R. Schutz
    Generally speaking no.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Pietryga Law Office | Russ Pietryga
    You are presumed innocent. That means, if the prosecutor decides to charge you with the theft, they will have to prove it "beyond a reasonable doubt." But, yes, you can be charge. People are charged for things they did not do all the time. Hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of James J. Rosenberger | James Joseph Rosenberger
    You don't have to prove you did not steal it. The prosecutor has the burden of proving you did. If there is no evidence to support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, then you either won't be charged or if you are, a conviction may be extremely difficult to obtain. Assert your denial if charged and consult an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
    Yes, however, the burden is the state to prove each element of any charges brought against you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Robert Valles and Associates P.C.
    Robert Valles and Associates P.C. | Robert Valles Jr.
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/24/2013
    Law Offices of Carl Spector
    Law Offices of Carl Spector | Carl Spector
    Evidence comes in many different varieties. For example evidence can be given through eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, forensic evidence, expert testimony or a case can be proven by circumstantial evidence. You do not have to prove anything, you are presumed innocent and the State must prove if they can the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    The accuser has to prove you DID take it. He has to prove your guilt, you do not have to prove your innocence.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    It is not your burden of proof. The prosecution must prove that you did it.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    If you are charged, you are presumed innocent + the prosecutor has to prove the case against you, you do not have to prove you didn't do it. Your friends statements + observations may or may not be sufficient. Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Yes you can be charged. You don't have to prove you didn't steal it, the State has to prove you did steal it. You need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/22/2012
    Conway Law Pllc.
    Conway Law Pllc. | B. L. Conway
    BE VERY VERY QUIET: Don't give a statement to anybody !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/22/2012
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