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How not to sit in front of the found phone: the court explained when the find is considered theft and how much you can get for it

Date: May 31, 2023 Time: 09:10:33

There is a difference between theft and discovery.

Photo: Shutterstock

The Constitutional Court (CC) explained the difference between a chance finding and a stolen object. For example, you found someone’s mobile phone or a bag with money or things on the street, but you did not declare it anywhere, leaving it with you until better times. In addition, he tried to destroy the signs that the thing had a different owner (for example, he threw the old SIM card out of the phone). Such an act, as the Constitutional Court explains, is clearly considered theft.

The reason for such clarifications was the appeal to the Constitutional Court of two Russians – AV Galimyanova and VS Puzryakov, who were convicted of embezzlement of other people’s mobile phones. Galimyanova picked up a phone that had fallen out of the bag of another bus passenger. She did not answer the owner’s calls, threw the SIM card and reset the device settings. The second applicant turned out to be a taxi driver. The phone in the cabin of his car was forgotten by one of the passengers. He acted according to the same scheme: he threw out the old SIM card and installed his own. As a result, both Galimyanova and Puzryakov ended up under the article. But they doubted his guilt and turned to the Constitutional Court for clarification. The court finally confirmed that both people are thieves.

The Constitutional Court recognized the norms of art. 158 of the Criminal Code (theft) and article 2 27 of the Civil Code (find), which allow citizens to be criminally responsible for violation of the rules for handling found things. The Civil Code establishes that a person who finds a lost thing is obliged to “immediately notify the person who lost it, the owner of the thing or another person known to him that he has the right to receive and return it.” In a note to art. 158 of the Penal Code (theft) establishes that theft is also interpreted as “the free movement of property belonging to others in favor of one”.

– If the person who discovered the thing found, in addition to not performing the indicated actions, also hides it or destroys the signs that make it possible to identify or find the owner (takes out the SIM card, removes the phone case, etc.), then such behavior indicates intent to steal, – explained the COP.

That is, in reality, the Constitutional Court did not present anything new, it simply explained the current norms of the law.

– If you found someone else’s thing, according to civil law, you have two ways: hand over the find to local governments, or hand it over to the police. Many are afraid of the second way, because at the same time you yourself can also be arrested, charged with theft. There were such cases and there are a lot of them, – lawyer, candidate of legal sciences Andrey Nekrasov told KP.RU.

Handing over the finding to local governments, eg city administration or district government, is also often a problem.

– In general, the country’s local governments do not know how to work with the findings. They explain that they are not obliged to accept the find, that they do not have such employees and storage space and send the person to the police, – says Andrey Nekrasov.

As Andrei Nekrasov explains, if you did not start using someone else’s thing, but simply left it with you for a while, without promptly declaring anywhere, then this can also be considered secret theft.

A common find on the street is bank cards.

– This is the property of the bank. If you start spending money from someone else’s card, then this is not just theft, it can be called fraud, because in this case you are hiding behind someone else’s identity, making a payment without the person’s will.

Here you see a clear intention, – explains Andrey Nekrasov. – If you go down the street and find a suitcase with money, you must also declare it. Such a find is also regulated by civil law. If the find is valued as a treasure, you will be entitled to a certain percentage of this treasure.

But what if you find, for example, a Troika card or a bonus card from the store?

The same as with a bank card – in order to avoid trouble, do not use someone else’s good. The same “Troika” is tied to the owner’s phone number. The same goes for store bonus cards. True, if we are talking about a non-personalized gift card from the store, then it will be more difficult to prove your guilt here. Also, the police are unlikely to want to deal with such small things, but it’s still not worth the risk.

Help “KP”

Article 158 of the Penal Code – theft or secret theft of another’s property. It will be punishable by a fine of up to 80 thousand rubles, or in the amount of wages or salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of up to six months, or for forced labor for a period of up to 360 hours, or for work corrective for a term of up to one year, or for restriction of liberty for a term of up to two years, or forced labor for up to two years, or arrest for up to four months, or imprisonment for up to two years.

Ultimately, it all depends on the decision of the court. There may be extenuating and aggravating circumstances in the case, the lawyers explained to KP.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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