Can the parents be convicted of theft of the van in the follwing case?The parents of two children in state custody stopped a van in which the children were passengers at gunpoint. They expelled the...

Can the parents be convicted of theft of the van in the follwing case?

The parents of two children in state custody stopped a van in which the children were passengers at gunpoint. They expelled the state officers and drove the van a short distance and abandoned it.

See State . Christene, 93 P3.d 82 (Ore.App. 2004)

Asked on by surfer3

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larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

A charge of theft of the van would definitely lie against the parents; but that is the least of their problems. By removing the children from those who had lawful custody of them, they have committed kidnapping. Worse, they did so by force of arms, that is at gunpoint. Taking the van without consent constitutes theft, pure and simple. Forcibly removing any person without the person's consent or the consent of the custodian of a minor is kidnapping. They might also be guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, or in some jurisdictions, pointing and presenting a firearm. The fact they only drove the van a short distance is of no consequence. Once they took control and possession of it (and the children) the elements of all offenses have been met. They are going to go away for a long time.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes, the parents could be convicted of theft of the van in this case.  To see why this is so, we must look at the definition of theft that is given in the link below.  It defines theft as

A criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person's consent.

What the parents did clearly fits this definition.  First, the property clearly belonged to another.  Just because the government is not a person does not mean that its property can be taken with impunity.  Second, no one in authority consented to allow the parents to have the van.  Finally, note that the definition does not say anything about how long the property must be held.  The simple act of taking the property (which clearly occurred) constitutes a theft.

Therefore, the parents could be convicted of theft in this case.

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