My nephew and his girlfriend had a cab called for them at a bar ..obviously drunk. When they arrived at their destination, my nephew could not find his debit card. He handed the driver a master card, and told him he didn't think it would go thru...it didn't. the driver then proceeded to take off from their destination with them still in the cab...my nephew jumped out at the next intersection when he saw a cop...he had no idea what the driver had planned to do...but my nephew ended up getting charged with theft of service without being offered the opportunity to call a friend and ask a neighbor to loan him the fairHe has requested a trial by jury as he could not in good conscience plead guilty to theft. He has one DUI on his record, and otherwise has no record. Former marine.
What you described have several elements of the viable affirmative defense for your nephew's case. In my opinion, in order to be properly convicted of the theft of services charge, as you correctly assumed one needs to have intent to do so.
It appears that the nephew was not given an opportunity to secure other alternative methods of payment for the fare.
Also, since the cab operator drove off the initial location with the nephew in the cab without his volition that may be construed false imprisonment and that cab operator may be charged with a criminal offense.
It is a reasonable thing that the nephew opted for a jury trial. I think that is the case where the above things must be explained correctly to clear the man of the charge.
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It would be best to ask an attorney in Arizona, because they would know the nuances and programs in that state. The seriousness depends largely upon his prior record. A deal may be able to be worked out to keep his record clean (if he has none) depending upon what the police and cab driver say occurred. Contact an attorney in Arizona soon.
Any criminal charge, especially theft, should be taken seriously as a conviction for theft will be an impediment to employment in numerous fields. I suspect that your nephew may be able to negotiate a dismissal, or reduction of the charge after an explanation of the circumstances are presented to a prosecutor. However, it is important to retain the services of a local attorney in order to maximize your chances for a favorable resolution. again your nephew has a lot at stake in the resolution of this case. It is important to avoi a theft conviction because I conviction will have a negative negative impact on employment, and other opportunitie.
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