What to do if I played music for a wedding and took some gratuity bottles of alcohol which I returned but now it looks like I will be charged with theft?

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What to do if I played music for a wedding and took some gratuity bottles of alcohol which I returned but now it looks like I will be charged with theft?

Upon leaving and packing up, I took 4 bottles of gratuity alcohol from some of the back tables being cleared off for trash. I loaded up and upon returning to say goodbye, they asked for the bottles back. I happily complied, took them outside, and gave it back to them. Now, 3 days later, they want to press charges against me. Everything is on camera, including my giving their bottles back. Do they have a case against me?

Asked on June 3, 2015 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

They *may* have a case against you: it depends in large part on credible evidence about your knowledge and intent. Theft is still theft, even if the theif returns the goods promptly; but it is only theft if you know, or had reason to know, you could not take those goods. If you reasonably throught you could take them (e.g. they were being discarded; they were a "tip" to you; custom is the musician can take left over bottles; etc.), then that would not be theft, since theft requires a criminal state of mind.


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