When you are sharing an apartment or dormitory room with a roommate, you need to know your rights in case you’re ever accused of stealing from them. It’s normal for people to be happy with others they live with using their items, but not everyone is going to be happy to share their belongings all the time.
You have to be cautious about borrowing a credit card or debit card, for example, because if you don’t get it back to the person after they give you permission to use it and use it again, you could be accused of theft and identity theft. If you accidentally make a purchase on the card when using the internet, you need to take steps to reverse that charge and show that the use of the card was unintentional.
If you’re facing allegations of stealing from a roommate, you have options
Any time you’re accused of stealing from someone you know, the first step is to try to talk to them about the issue. If it was a misunderstanding, you may be able to resolve the issue without the police or court getting involved.
For example, if you used their card to get groceries because you thought you had permission but didn’t, you could offer to pay them back. If you do that, then you may be able to resolve the issue without any further conflict.
If you can’t resolve the roommate theft allegation and the other person calls the police, you could face one or more kinds of charges depending on what you did. In that case, your priority should be to learn more about your legal options and to start building a defense as soon as you can. Fortunately, if you keep evidence of them giving you permission to use an item that belongs to them or you can show that this was all a misunderstanding, most situations won’t need to result in criminal penalties and may be able to be resolved outside of court.
If the case does move forward and will go to trial, then you’ll want to prepare for court and have a deeper understanding of the law and your rights.