Last updated on November 2, 2021

An Overview Of Theft Of Lost Property Charges In Michigan

Interviewer: When they refer to theft of lost property, lost property, what do they mean first of all by that just to analyze the words because some of it doesn’t make sense to me?

Paul Tafelski: That gets a lot more tricky but, for example, it might be a situation where somebody lost their wallet and it has all their identification in it. It’s easy for whoever picks it up to see whose wallet it is, who it belongs to and everything else.  Then, if you took all the money or used the credit card, you still would be stealing even though you may have found it on the ground. On the other hand, if something is truly lost like if a gold coin is just sitting on the ground and you find it and it doesn’t have any identifying marks as to who the owner is or anything that’s not going to be considered a theft crime. You happened to have found the lost property and there’s no crime in taking that.  So, it all depends on the factual circumstances.

It is Important to Avoid Purchasing Suspicious Items at Flea Markets or Pawn Shops

Interviewer: What about a situation where maybe someone comes into possession of something like an iPhone or some sort of laptop that they purchased at some secondhand store, maybe a pawn shop or a flea market? Could they be facing those same charges?

Paul Tafelski: Sometimes, what comes out of those kind of situations is a charge of receiving and concealing stolen property. A lot of that has to do with the actual knowledge that you may have had when you bought something. It usually comes down to a situation where you knew they were stolen or you should have known because it was very obvious such as, you’re buying a laptop worth $2,000 for $100 and there are some markings on it where it looks like it was taken out of a car. It’s that type of situation where it is pretty clear that the person who obtained the property should have known that it was stolen.  So, receiving and concealing stolen property is what usually comes out of those kinds of flea market bargains.

The Primary Difference Between Conversion Charges and Theft of Services Charges

Interviewer: What’s difference between conversion and theft of services?

Paul Tafelski: Theft of services usually pertains that you received the benefit of some service and then you did not pay for it whereas conversion is something where you came into possession of a property legitimately but then you convert it to your own and never return it.

Theft Of Services Pertains that A Person Availed a Service But Did Not Pay For It

Interviewer: What are some examples of theft of services?  Would that be, for instance, if someone didn’t pay for a cab or something like that?

Paul Tafelski: Yes, exactly.  Someone jumped out of the cab or ran out of the restaurant without paying a bill (what is called “dine and dash”). Or maybe someone hired a painter to paint the house and then wouldn’t pay him for no legitimate reason, those kind of things.

Common Types Of Theft that People Are Generally Unaware Of

Interviewer: What are some examples of theft that people are generally unaware of, like for instance, tax fraud?  Do you ever deal with clients that come in and they’re pretty unaware of it- like foreigners, for instance?

Paul Tafelski: The thing about all theft crimes is that they are what is called a “specific intent” crime. That means that at some level, there is knowledge on the part of the accused that they knew what they were doing or receiving was wrong. That is often where we are able to fight the case just by arguing that the client did not know or did not understand what was going on, but an honest mistake was made. The challenge for the prosecutor is usually this issue; the element of intent. With all theft crimes there is an issue of intent that has to be proven by the prosecutor.

The Potential Consequences Associated with Hot Checks in Michigan

Interviewer: What about “hot checks”?  What sort of trouble can someone get into when it comes to hot checks?

Paul Tafelski: If you are charged with knowingly writing bad checks, that’s called uttering and publishing. That is a felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison. However, it is a non-violent crime and many times, we are able to avoid people being incarcerated and get them favorable outcomes. It is categorized as a fairly serious, long-term felony. It’s not something to take lightly; it’s not really a matter between just you and the bank. It is a crime and it exists to protect the bank so that people know and have to worry about getting in trouble for writing bad checks. It’s a longstanding issue that exists basically for the benefit of the banks.

Posted in: Theft
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