Sunday, May 26, 2013

Theft is one offense, even if different owners

Lydia Krebs won in State v. Hood, No. 101,953 (Kan. May 17, 2013), getting reversal of one of two theft convictions and sentences  stemming from a single taking.  The primary issue in the case was whether a single taking of property could be split into two offenses if the state showed more than one owner.  The KSC answered in the negative:
The panel's isolation and elevation of the term "owner" in the mens rea element of the theft definition creates a misdirection as to the nature of the crime. Considering the statute as a whole, it is clear that the "nature of the conduct proscribed," is gaining unauthorized control over property rather than the victimization of any particular person. In other words, the gravamen of the offense is clearly a property crime rather than a person crime.
Because the KSC held that the gravamen was the single taking, it vacated one  theft conviction and sentence as multiplicitous.

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