The defendant has a very long criminal history and if I can make a felony that would be great. He checked out a computer laptop over $1,500 from the local library and has not returned it. The police submitted a felony theft charge.
I don't know how I will prove intent to steal or theft at the time of the taking.
Could a library check-out be considered a rental?
Do I have a theft case or any other felony you can think of?
You can checkout a laptop out of the public library?!?! Wow. Shows how long its been since I have been to the library!
How long has the laptop been overdue? Any attempt to contact defendant, i.e. notice?
Allison, I thought you'd be in Corpus with your waders and snorkel. His lack of returning it, as agreed, can show his prior intent to steal (I'm sure a Guadalupe County Jury would be outraged at his egrigous conduct!) Send a demand letter, if he doesn't return it to you, send a GJ Subpoena Duces Tecum. I don't suppose this is any of my prior clients?
The laptop was due July 13, 2005. The library sent notice to the defendant on August 8, 2005, and asked that the laptop be returned no later than August 12, 2005. The defendant signed for the certified letter on August 11, 2005.
The police department has not attempted to contact the defendant. I have told them today to make contact with the defendant.
[This message was edited by Allison Lanty on 09-22-05 at .]
"I have told today to make contact with the defendant. "
Why can't we fill in the blanks for an obvious typo? Sorry but the petty jibes sometimes piss me off. Aren't we all trying to help and support each other?
Thank you wannerbee. As you can tell I do not use this forum that often. But, now I have learned how to edit a post. I had never tried it until today.
I was trying to be playful. I didn't mean to offend either of you. My apologies.
WOW! Can't we have a little fun?
OK, Allison, we're dying to know, did the men in blue get the computer back yet?
It is Gonzales County so not one of your former clients. Though, I think one of your former defendants. At this time, no, the computer has not been returned.
Since this post has taken a turn away from the topic, to get back to point, I am not as confident as you are that an actor's subsequent behavior, like not returning the laptop, can be used as evidence of his intent at the time he acquired the laptop. I am just not sure I can use post behavior to prove prior intent. That is my issue.
Couldn't you allege a theft on either the date that he failed to return the lap top (the original due date) or on the date that he failed to return it as requested in the letter? It seems like you don't have to go back to the date that he checked it out.
Any theft occurs at the moment that the suspect forms the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Obviously, at the original checkout it would be difficult to prove the suspect intended to steal. But, if he had told someone before checking out the laptop, for example, that he found an easy way to steal a laptop, then we could prove it.
So, the question now is, at what point can we say a jury could form the opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the suspect intended to deprive the library of the laptop.
Certainly, after he was told to bring it back, that inference begins to gain some strength. A face to face interview with the suspect might help. In all likelihood, we would find that he doesn't even have the laptop anymore. Perhaps a check of the local pawn shops would be in order.
Sounds to me like there might also be sufficient evidence to obtain a search warrant. No telling what might be found.
This discussion is following the same lines as several previous threads that examine when a hot check becomes a theft. Do a search for those threads (search: hot checks).
Well, I think you all have good advice for Allison, and she's a great attorney, I know she's already thought of that. I think the problem is the juries that you get in Gonzales County, and I won't go into detail on that one, but Allison is probably smirking at this post!
Many years ago, several of us were filing thefts for libraries on books that failed to ever return. Amid media hillarity and scorn, I think everyone stopped.
Not to make light of this, but isn't there a strong parallel? My personal belief is that - with books or a laptop - failure to return upon request is theft. However, most of my colleagues did not agree when we were prosecuting book thefts.
That's because you generally can't pawn a book.
Not to mention the fact that the average hardbound book runs $25 to $25 dollars while Allison is talking about a $1,500 computer!
Did the police have a face-to-face with the defendant? Do you have sufficient info to obtain a search warrant for the suspect's house?
You mention that he has priors. If he prior thefts, subject to a few stictures, you would be able to raise those if he mounts any attack on intent or claims accident or mistake.
It seems analogous to the sap who loans out his car for a beer run and three days later has to report it stolen. The suspect has exceeded the scope of his license and the act "matures" into a theft.
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