To prove someone committed a crime, the state (through its prosecutors) must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each element of the crime. Therefore, defenses to any crime start with negating one or more of the elements of the crime. Additionally, some crimes allow for “affirmative” defenses which, if the defendant can prove the defense applies, will result in a verdict of “not guilty” even if the prosecutor proves the defendant met each of the elements of the crime.
If the prosecutor can prove all the elements of Grand Theft, however, the defendant must prove that one or more justifications for his actions existed (i.e., it is the defendant’s burden to prove an affirmative defense). For Grand Theft, some of these justifications include:
- Permission from the other person (e.g., lending of the property, gift of the property);
- The defendant owned the property;
- Duress / Threats;
- Someone framed the defendant;
- Entrapment; and
- Statute of Limitations.