Theft is the act of illegally taking the property of another person. However, if someone has given you property to hold on to through a legal agreement, that person should not turn around and accuse you of stealing. Sometimes a legally valid contract in Texas can serve as a defense against a charge of theft.
Contracts take many forms. However, according to the University of Texas at San Antonio, legally enforceable contracts have common elements.
Features of a legally valid contract
To enter into a contract, you must be a legal party to the contract, meaning you are not a minor or there is no other condition that disqualifies you. The contract must also spell out actions that are legal. You cannot make an agreement to perform a criminal act.
Basically, a contract includes an offer. The person who hands you a contract may ask you to do something with a piece of property until you have fulfilled certain conditions. The offer must contain clearly defined terms. You must also give your acceptance of the contract, which you may show through verbal or written means, typically a signature on the contract.
Show your contract if needed
A clearly defined contract allows you to hold the other party accountable for the terms established in the agreement. If you have an entitlement to possess a piece of property and have carried out the terms of the contract with no deviations, the other party should not hold you criminally liable.
Keeping copies of your contracts is important. You may need to produce a copy in the event there is confusion concerning your possession of property listed in the contract or your actions concerning it. Your contract could be especially important if you face a criminal investigation.