Pretend you’re a juror.

Posted by $ CBJ 5 years, 7 months ago to Philosophy
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Person A steals Person B’s car, and is caught. During his trial, it is revealed that Person B bought the car with the proceeds of a theft that he himself committed. Person B’s victim has since died and left no heirs. Person A, who is on trial, argues that he did not commit theft, since Person B is not the legitimate owner of the car – in fact, there is no legitimate owner. You are on the jury. Do you think Person A is guilty of theft or not?


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  • Posted by Joy1inchrist 5 years, 6 months ago
    Person A is guilty of theft. There was presumably no coercion involved with Person B's purchase of the car. So, although "B" committed a crime previously, he was still the legal owner of the car. In fact, it doesn't even matter who owned the car previous to "A" stealing it. The answer to the question is found in your 1st sentence, CBJ: "Person A steals (a) car ..." Whoever was the rightful owner is irrelevant (thereby making the issue of "the legitimate owner" a moot issue). The ONLY relevant issue is the fact the Person A did NOT own it.
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  • Posted by $ allosaur 5 years, 7 months ago
    Guilty. Person A stole a car. Period. Let go, he may next steal my car or your car. Maybe both our cars.
    Recall when I was a corrections officers, thieves were the real scum among inmates.
    I also recall a Brit contract murderer who got along with everybody and was polite to the officers.
    Murderers aren't hard to boss, but that's only general prison population relatively speaking.
    The prison I worked at IS named after an officer who got murdered by a cop killer in a segregation unit that was not part of death row.
    Shoulda been death row! Thanks, justice system.
    By the way, when a gangsta Glocks a gangsta, a quick drop from the end of a rope is too good for him..
    To hell with all the so-called "humane" goody two-shoes medicate them unto oblivion and get sued if you mess it up bull crap.
    A bullet is cheaper than a rope, by the way.
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 6 months ago
    The scenario is complicated enough that it almost begs for a complicating circumstance like an insurance company lawsuit, or the government wanting to claim the stolen car from Person C for lack of ability to pay the estate tax, or some evidence of Person A's theft being inadmissible. Of course, thief A is guilty, but is he/she guilty in a court of lawyers (I refuse to call them courts of law.)?

    I sat for two juries in the last 10 years, and because I actually could read biomedical images (and therefore could be an independent thinking juror), I was (of course) not selected when the juries were winnowed from 14 to 6. Those unfortunate doctors could not get a jury of their peers (including other doctors).
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    • Posted by term2 5 years, 6 months ago
      Soldiers fight for their government, not their countries. Courts at this point are owned by the lawyers, with only lip service to the rights of citizens.
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  • Posted by evlwhtguy 5 years, 6 months ago
    Actually a quite simple question.

    Yes......ownership of the car was not Person A. He was not specifically stealing from B, so B's ownership has no bearing on the criminality of the act. The car belongs to someone.....just not Mr. A!

    Now, if this was a civil suit everything would be diffrent....Mr. B could not allege that he was damaged by the theft so therefore A would be found to be innocent in a civil case because B did not own the car.
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  • Posted by Enyway 5 years, 7 months ago
    Whether person B stole the money to buy the car, he did buy it. That makes him the legal owner, provided all the legalities for buying a car have been met. So, person A is guilty and person B, who lucked out, can only be prosecuted for for stealing from his victim. Ideally, both should go to jail because they are both guilty of a crime. Sad that only person A can be prosecuted and should be found guilty.
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  • Posted by chad 5 years, 6 months ago
    Read 'Trial by Jury' by Lysander Spooner. The immoral rules of trail invented by this democratic communist country would not apply in a fair trial. The jury decides what is admissible and what isn't, what is evidence and what isn't and whether or not the law is allowable to discern what is just. This prevents the government from passing laws that are corrupt and then employing their use to take away the rights of people. The ultimate supreme court was the trial by jury. The fact that there are no heirs does not excuse Person B or A. They are both criminals and need to be closely observed.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 years, 6 months ago
    Person A is guilty of taking the law into his own
    hands, which would be a separate charge. (See
    Ayn Rand's "The Nature of Government" in The
    Virtue of Selfishness
    .)
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 6 months ago
    One nit in this scenario. The judge is supposed to decide on questions of law, like whether it matters that the stolen car had been purchased with stolen money. The jury is supposed to decide questions of fact, like there really evidence to prove Person A stole and wasn't somehow framed.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 6 months ago
      I don't think the distinction is that clear cut. The jury can (or at least should be able to) decide whether a person's actions constitute a crime. And the whole concept of jury nullification depends upon a jury being able to have a say in questions of law.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 7 months ago
    The car really did belong to Person B even though he bought it with stolen money. Person B is guilty of theft of money, but the car is his. Person A stole it from him.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 7 months ago
      So if Person B's victim were still alive, he would have no moral or legal claim on anything Person B purchased with the money he stole from that victim?
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 7 months ago
        Let's call Person B's victim Person C.
        I say Person C could sue Person B and get a judgment that would force Person B to sell assets and garnish wages to pay damages to Person C. The police might save Person C the trouble my charging Person B with a crime and making restitution to Person C part of the criminal penalty. This is helpful to Person C b/c there's no debtors' prison, but criminal court could give Person B the choice of jail or making restitution, an indirect debtors' prison.

        But I say the car belonged to Person B, even though he happens to be a thief himself.
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        • Posted by $ 5 years, 7 months ago
          By "belonged" do you mean legally or morally? In this case there might be a difference.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 6 months ago
            I like this question. I wrote out this summary of the scenario to think it through:
            -Person C earned money in an honest transaction.
            -Person B steals Person C's money.
            -Person C dies and leave no heirs.
            -Person B trades the stolen money with Person D to get a car in a transaction that's honest except Person B isn't the rightful owner of the money.
            -Person A steals the car from Person B.

            I think morally we have to look at each theft individually. Person D shouldn't have to verify the origin of the money to sell her car. Person B's stealing money doesn't make it open-season for anyone who wants to steal things he bought with the money.
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            • Posted by $ 5 years, 6 months ago
              All true, and in the real world it probably wouldn't be an issue. As a though experiment, however, it brings up some questions whose answers may not be readily obvious. Questions such as: Crimes require victims. Is Person B a victim of a crime? Did the car become his morally rightful property when he purchased it with stolen money? If instead of a car, someone else had made off with the actual money that he had stolen earlier, would that change the moral equation?
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              • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 6 months ago
                "If instead of a car, someone else had made off with the actual money that he had stolen earlier, would that change the moral equation?"
                I think it's still the same type of theft, but that may be because I see money as fungible. What if we change it to be one-of-a-kind heirloom? For some reason that makes Person B seem less like a "victim" of Person A and more like just another criminal.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 6 months ago
            "legally or morally?"
            I'll have to think about it. I think of stolen property as going back to the original owner, even if it's sold. That makes me think of the money that now in the hands of Person D who sold Person B the car having no idea the money she was receiving was stolen. My first thought is money is fungible, and how do you know Person D received those exact same dollars belonging to Person C. I have to think about further.
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