Should court resources be used on a case about the hot dog theft? A 99-cent hot dog at that?
Well, a jury in Cheney, Washington was tasked with just such a job, and recently acquitted a man who was accused of stealing a "bronze" German sausage from a local grocery store.
The defendant said he wasn't a hot dog thief, and the jury believed him.
In December, John Richardson was moseying through Mitchell's IGA, picking up fixings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, reports The Spokesman-Review.
Before heading out, he stopped at the self-serve counter and loaded up a 99 cent German sausage. According to the paper, he ate the dog while he did his shopping.
After paying for $28 worth of groceries, the paper then reports that John Richardson left the store, forgetting to pay for his meat.
That's when store managers approached him and accused him of being a hot dog thief.
Even though he offered to pay the 99 cents, employees called the police.
And then the city of Cheney, Washington had to pay for an entire trial.
Local prosecutors offered Richardson a deal--to pay $200 to Mitchell's IGA--but he refused, reports the paper.
After 5 minutes of deliberation, the jury decided that John Richardson is not a hot dog thief under Washington law. And they were probably right.
The theft statute states that it is illegal to wrongfully obtain unauthorized control over another's property with the intent to deprive him of such property.
He may have wrongfully taken the hot dog, but because he paid for his other groceries and offered to pay upon request, Richardson probably didn't have the intent to deprive Mitchell's IGA of 99 cents.
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