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Topolewski v. State

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Topolewski (Defendant), was charged with having stolen three barrels of meat from the Plankinton Packing Company, valued at $55.20 and was found guilty.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where the owner of property, by himself or his agent, actually or constructively, aids in the commission of the offense, as intended by the wrongdoer, by performing or rendering unnecessary some act in the transaction essential to the offense, the would-be criminal is not guilty of all of the elements of the offense.

    Facts. Dolan was indebted to the Defendant in the amount of $100.00. In order to reduce the debt that was owed, the two men agreed to a plan in which Dolan, through his employment at the Plankinton Packing Company, would assist the Defendant in obtaining meat products from the company. Dolan disclosed the plan to the company and, as a result, the company allowed Dolan to continue with the plan in order to entrap the Defendant in the act of receiving stolen meats. Dolan, through the assistance of Layer, allowed barrels of meat to be placed on the company’s loading platform. The Defendant appeared at the plant and placed three barrels of meat in his wagon, telling the platform boss that he ordered the meat through Dolan. The Defendant was later apprehended and charged with larceny.

    Issue. Can a charge of larceny be sustained were goods were taken and carried away through the assistance of the legal owner of the stolen goods?

    Held. The charge of larceny against the Defendant cannot stand. If one procures his property to be taken by another intending to commit larceny, or delivers his property to such other, the latter proposing to commit such crime, the element of trespass is wanting and the crime not fully consummated however plain may be the guilty purpose of the one possessing himself of such property.

    Discussion. The court held that this case was very near the border line between consent and non-consent to the taking of property. However, the actions of Dolan and Layer eliminated the element of trespass. The court held that the Defendant would have been guilty had the company merely provided an improved opportunity to steal the barrels of meat himself. However, Dolan and Layer did much more than provide an opportunity. The barrels of meat were placed in the platform loading area. Further, the platform boss was told to let the barrels of meat go to an individual who would be picking them up. Dolan and Layer more than improved the opportunity for the Defendant to take the barrels of meat and as a result, eliminated the element of trespass necessary for a charge of larceny to stand.


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