Saturday, August 25, 2012

Man Steals TV, Attempts Getaway on Bike, Slams into Police Cruiser - Theft Law in Kentucky

Per WWSB channel 7 in Florida:  “Charlotte County Sheriff's deputies arrested a man who stole a television in a box from Wal-Mart and fled with it on his bicycle. He was arrested when he crashed into the back of a detective’s vehicle. 

Arrested for Retail Theft and Resisting an Officer was 32-year-old Jonathan Ryan Fontaine of Port Charlotte.

According to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Wal-Mart security called CCSO at 3 p.m. Tuesday after a man stole the 32-inch TV, exited the store, and drove off with it on his bicycle. 

Two detectives responding to another incident spotted Fontaine with the TV on his bicycle at U.S. 41 and Midway Boulevard. One detective drove ahead of Fontaine and the other got out of his car and on foot tried to stop Fontaine. When Fontaine turned around to look at the detective chasing him, he was not paying attention, and slammed into the rear of the other detective’s vehicle.

That’s why it’s a bad idea to steal a TV that is so big it obstructs your vision as you drive it home on your Huffy.  Maybe a 27 inch TV, but not a 32.  That’s just stupid.

The story above is regarding a Florida case.  So I’m going to ignore it.  I don’t know Florida law.

Today we’re going to talk about theft by unlawful taking charges in Kentucky.  Louisville criminal defense lawyers always like to use shortened nicknames for criminal charges (like POCS, pronounced “pocks,” for Possession of Controlled Substance).  The shortened, cute little nickname for Theft By Unlawful Taking is TBUT, pronounced “Tee-butt.”

The Kentucky TBUT statute can be found, inconspicuously, in the “Theft and Related Charges” section of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS).  Specifically, we’re going to be looking at KRS 514.030, Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition, which states:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in KRS 217.181 or 218A.1418, a person is guilty of theft by unlawful taking or disposition when he unlawfully:

(a) Takes or exercises control over movable property of another with intent to deprive him thereof; or
(b) Obtains immovable property of another or any interest therein with intent to benefit himself or another not entitled thereto.

(2) Theft by unlawful taking or disposition is a Class A misdemeanor unless the value of the property is five hundred dollars ($500) or more, in which case it is a Class D felony; or unless:
(a) The property is a firearm (regardless of the value of the firearm), in which case it is a Class D felony;
(b) The property is anhydrous ammonia (regardless of the value of the ammonia), in which case it is a Class D felony unless it is proven that the person violated this section with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine in violation of KRS 218A.1432, in which case it is a Class B felony for the first offense and a Class A felony for each subsequent offense; or
(c) The value of the property is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more, in which case it is a Class C felony.

As you can tell, the definition for TBUT is pretty simple.  Basically, it covers any time someone steals something.  The complicated part of the statute is the penalty section.  The penalty for TBUT depends not only on the value of the item(s) allegedly taken, but also the type of item(s).  The general rule is that stealing something worth less than five hundred dollars is a Class A misdemeanor.  However, stealing a gun is always a class D felony. 

The punishment for stealing a $200 gun is harsher than stealing $400 worth of electronics.

For those of you who have jobs that don’t require you to learn weird things like how to make methamphetamine, anhydrous ammonia is used for fertilizer.  Some farmers will keep tanks of anhydrous ammonia on their farms.  The compound is also used to make methamphetamine, so some manufacturers thereof have taken to stealing it from the tanks that farmers keep.  This is a dangerous process that involves converting a propane tank for proper fitting, and also involves the possibility of burning your fingers off (anhydrous ammonia is stored in liquid form under pressure and has a boiling point of -28F).

Stealing anhydrous ammonia, in and of itself, is a Class D felony.  If they can prove that the person stealing it intended to make meth (which is likely), the crime is a Class B felony (carrying a penalty of 10-20 years in prison, and a Class A felony (carrying a penalty of 20-life in prison) for subsequent offenses.

Stealing anything worth $10,000 or more is a Class C felony.  However, from a plain reading of the statute, I believe that if someone stole a gun worth $10,000 or more, the Commonwealth would not be able to charge the thief with a Class C felony.  Strictly read, subsection (2)(a) dictates that the theft of ANY firearm, REGARDLESS OF VALUE, is a Class D felony.  Obviously the statute was meant to bump the theft of lesser valued firearms UP a class, but I believe the statute could be used in a criminal defendant’s favor for stealing ultra-high value antique firearms.

If you are charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking or Shoplifting, and you do not know what the penalty is for the offense, you should contact a Louisville theft or shoplifting attorney today.  Obviously, the law in this area is a little complicated, but a good criminal defense attorney should be able to give you an idea of what you are facing.

Call 502.618.4949 for a free consultation with a Louisville theft or shoplifting attorney today.  Theft charges in Kentucky are serious.  You should have a lawyer on your side to protect your constitutional rights. 

Simms & Reed, PLLC.
Individual Attention.  Extraordinary Results.

No comments:

Post a Comment