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Friday, March 13, 2009

Appeals Court Won't Hold Up Theft Charge for Fleeing with Police Handcuffs

Ripped from the headlines of today’s Herald…
This case has a limited amount of ‘funny’ to do it. More like a test for a law student then real life. But real life can be stranger than fiction. So anyway some teenager in Dade gets arrested in a library last year because he failed to obey an order from a cop to cruise.

An off duty police officer decided he was making to much noise and ordered him to split. He told the cop off, and the cop says, ‘oh, yeah wise guy,’ places him under arrest, and attempts to cuff him. The kid splits, runs away with the cuffs locked onto his left wrist. Later that night he is found at his grandmother’s house. He is a 15-year-old boy. He is about to make appellate history.

The lad is charged with battery and resisting arrest, which gets '86ed after a diversion program. But the state adds a charge of theft for stealing the handcuffs he fled with. That sticks. The Public Defender will not have it. They appeal.

The Court of Appeals, apparently with all too much time on its hands, has to write an opinion. ''We are sure that J.B. would have gladly relinquished any dominion, control or possessory rights to the handcuffs if he only had the key to release them,'' the judges said.

The court also said the conviction can't stand without evidence that ``J.B. intended to deprive the officer of her right to use the handcuffs or benefit from them, or that he intended to appropriate the handcuffs for his own use,” wrote the appeals panel, including Chief Judge David Gersten and judges Frank Shepherd and Alan Schwartz.

''Did they really expect him to go back to the police and return the handcuffs, or to return them in the mail?,'' attorney Harvey Sepler said. ``He couldn't get them off his arm.''

Why am I writing about this? How did this get to be news? This is all Dade has to worry about? I guess the moral of the story is that fleeing felons have a right to steal handcuffs, or alternatively, before they run, they should always get a key. Or if you make a successful escape, you have a right to saw them off after the fact and you are not financially liable to the state for the cost of restitution. You could get charged for littering though if you do not properly dispose of them. I am working on this. I will get you a memo.

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