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Regina v. Thurborn

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant appeals a conviction of larceny when he found and kept a note after he found out to whom it belonged.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    It is not larceny for an individual to take and convert for his own use what is reasonably believed to be lost property that contains no markings and the owner cannot be located.

    Facts.

    Thurborn (Defendant) found a dropped money note on the road. There were no markings on the note, nor any name and no means of finding out who the true owner of the note was. Defendant intended to appropriate it to his own use when he picked it up. The following day, Defendant learned that the note belonged to the prosecutor, but instead of returning the note, he changed the note and kept the money for himself. Defendant was charged with larceny and found guilty by a jury. Defendant appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether it is larceny for an individual to take and convert for his own use what is reasonably believed to be lost property that contains no markings and the owner cannot be located.

    Held.

    No. Defendant’s conviction is reversed. It is not larceny for an individual to take and convert for his own use what is reasonably believed to be lost property that contains no markings and the owner cannot be located.

    Discussion.

    If an individual finds property that has actually been lost, or is reasonably supposed by him to have been lost, the owner cannot be located, and then takes and appropriates the property for his own use cannot be found guilty of larceny. However, if the individual takes the property, but believes that the true owner can be found, at the time of the taking, it is larceny. Thus, the evidence turns on whether the person accused had reasonable belief that the owner could be found when he takes the property. Here, Defendant had no knowledge, and no way of finding out who the true owner of the note was at the time he took it. However, while Defendant was in possession of the note, Defendant became aware of the owner and then Defendant cashed it. Although the possession was by a dishonest intent, it was still a lawful possession and good against all but the real owner, and the subsequent conversion was not therefore a trespass in this case.


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