Is It Still Theft If the Victim Gave You Their Property?
Criminal theft is often associated with armed robbery or shoplifting. But theft can also occur when the victim gives you their property without the threat of violence. For example, if someone gives you a valuable piece of jewelry for safekeeping and you later refuse to return it to them, that is still considered a crime. Under Georgia law, a person commits “theft by taking” whenever they “unlawfully appropriate” the property of another with the intent to deprive the owners of that property. It does not matter how the thief initially acquired the property.
Georgia Woman Convicted of Stealing from Father During His COVID-19 Recovery
Consider this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals. In Poole v. State, a jury convicted a woman of committing theft against her father. According to the evidence introduced at trial, the father was hospitalized in 2020 due after contracting COVID-19. He was placed in a medically induced coma for some time.
The father had a bag with him when he went to the hospital. This bag contained the father’s wallet, the keys to his home and truck, and approximately $41,000 in cash. Hospital staff gave the bag to the defendant for safekeeping. The defendant then apparently left town for three days without explanation. During this time, the defendant left her father’s bag at her home with her girlfriend.
The girlfriend subsequently gave the bag to the defendant’s mother for safekeeping. During this time, the defendant’s father came out of his coma. He was being moved to a rehab facility and asked the mother to place the bag in that facility’s safe.
However, when the mother later went looking for the bag, it was missing. The defendant had taken it. She kept the bag while her father was in rehab and used its contents for her own benefit. She even changed the locks on her father’s apartment, which required him to contact the landlord. When he regained access, he found his cash and other property were missing. He then contacted the police.
As previously noted, a jury convicted the defendant of theft by taking. The jury also found her guilty of “exploitation and intimidation of a disabled adult, elderly person, or resident.” The Court of Appeals upheld both convictions. The appellate court noted the exploitation charge did not require proof of theft, only that the defendant “improperly used” her father’s property for her own benefit.
Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today
The penalties for criminal theft in Georgia are often tied to the value of the property taken, not whether the defendant used violence or force to obtain the property. So if you have been accused of stealing anything of value from another, you must be prepared to defend yourself. Our Georgia theft lawyers can help. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.