If my brother took a friend’s wallet with $275 in it but returned it within 24 hours with $300 in it, can he be charged and convicted of theft?

Also what can be done if the owner of the wallet and their friends are harassing him?

Asked on October 15, 2014 under Criminal Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, he can be charged with theft even if he returned the wallet later--even with more money than he'd taken. It is theft to intentinally or knowingly take property belonging to another, regardless of what is later done with the property; the theft occured at the moment your brother took the wallet, and is not negated by returning it later--though having returned it voluntarily, if he is charged, he has increased his chance of possibly having the charge later dismissed, or more likely, having the charge and/or any punishment reduced. (He also can't be sued for the money if he gave it back.)

If the wallet's owner and friends are threatening him, damaging his property, etc., those are crimes and he can make a police report and possible press charges. If it's hust that they are hassling him without doing anything itself illegal, he may have to put up with that: the law does not say that person A cannot be obnoxious to or "harass" person B, so long as A does not cross the line into illegal activities.

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