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Rex v. Chisser

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. This action involves the theft of two cravats from the shop of Anne Charteris (Charteris) by Abraham Chisser (Chisser).

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Physical possession of a good obtained through larceny does not vest in the possessor a legal right to that good.

    Facts. Chisser entered the shop of Charteris and asked to see two cravats. Charteris showed Chisser the goods and Chisser asked how much they were to purchase. When Charteris responded that the price would be 7 shillings, Chisser counter-offered with a price of 3 shillings. After Chisser offered 3 shillings to purchase the goods, he, without awaiting a response from Charteris, ran out of the store with the goods in his possession.

    Issue. Does the theft of the goods by Chisser amount to felonious conduct, or should Chisser remain in possession of the goods because he had physical custody over them?

    Held. The conduct of Chisser amounts to felony conduct. Although Chisser was in physical possession of the goods, his actions made it as if the potential contract between the two parties was never perfected.

    Discussion. The Dressler handbook noted that the Chisser case was an example of the broadening law regarding larceny, through distinguishing between physical and constructive possession. Although Chisser had physical possession through his taking and carrying away of the goods, he never had constructive possession. In this case, the shop owner, Charteris, retained constructive possession over the goods. The Dressler book notes that Chisser tresspassorily took possession of the goods from Charteris. However, when he fled with the shop owner’s property he had both custody and wrongful possession of the property.


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