Can i go to jail for not returning employer property

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can i go to jail for not returning employer property

I completely forgot i was in
possession of a tool that belonged
to my former employer and now the
police are trying to charge me
with theft

Asked on March 22, 2016 under Criminal Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

To be guilty of a crime (theft) requires a criminal intent (or "mens rea"), such as the intent to take something not belonging to you. Accidentally taking something is something you can be sued over (e.g for the value of what you took) but is not a crime.
The problem is, the authorities of no way of precisely knowing your intent. If the circumstances show or strongly suggest that you did deliberately take the item, they may conclude that you had criminal intent. To be convicted (i.e. potentially go to jail), a court would have to believe, based on the evidence, that you had criminal intent when taking the tool. You can put in your evidence (e.g. your testimony) that you did not, and a court will weight the credibilty, or believability,  of the evidence and testimony and decide if you committed a crime.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption