Temporarily Swiping Someone’s Cell Phone Isn’t Theft, CA Court Rules


What, exactly, is a theft? A California appeals court says a man swiped a stranger's cell phone to make a call wasn't guilty of the more serious crime of theft, says the San Francisco Chronicle. It happened outside a hospital in Martinez, where employee Michael Cardoza was texting on his new iPhone. A stranger grabbed the phone, but Cardoza said he chased after the man and snatched the phone back.

The assailant testified that he urgently needed to call his fiancee. A jury acquitted him of robbery, but convicted him of grand theft. The appeals court said his actions didn’t amount to theft. “Taking a phone for temporary use is far more akin to joyriding or taking a bicycle with intent to return it the next day, which do not constitute theft,” said Justice Maria Rivera.

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