When a college student in Pennsylvania accuses another of theft, it can have serious consequences. The situation may be even more difficult when the students are roommates. Whether the student actually took the item or not, the accusation may result in criminal charges.

According to Erie Indemnity Co., a number of factors could create an environment where a theft accusation is more likely, including the following:

  • The roommates do not get along or do not communicate
  • The shared space is cluttered or messy
  • One or both students frequently leave expensive items or money unattended
  • Doors or drawers are left unlocked

If police arrest a student for theft, it does not necessarily mean that the student will be convicted. FindLaw explains that there may be ways to defend against a theft charge. For example, perhaps the student intended to return the property, but the other roommate filed a police report before the item was brought back to the room. Then, an officer or security guard identified the property and arrested the student before he or she could explain the situation to the roommate.

A lot of the supplies and electronics that students use are very similar in appearance. A student may be able to show that he or she has the same item or one that could be easily mistaken for the one the roommate is missing.

It may be that the person who took the item was intoxicated at the time. However, explaining that the incident occurred because of intoxication may have its own serious consequences, so the effectiveness of that defense should be carefully weighed against other possible options.