Under Section 485 of the California Penal Code, finders cannot always be keepers.

What is appropriation of lost property?

It is an act that is considered as theft.

How can a person commit this crime?

Anyone who finds property belonging to another and appropriates the property for his own use, even when there is a means by which the person can inquire as to the true owner. If the finder does not make any reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, he or she will be punished for theft.

What is one example of this crime?

A man finds a wallet with money in it and with the owner’s ID or driver’s license in it. The finder takes the money and buys stuff with the money. The finder did not bother to calling or contact the owner to return the wallet and the money. This is an example of appropriation of lost property.

When is it not a crime to keep what one finds?

When there is no means by which a finder can identify the owner of the lost item then it would be impractical and impossible to make just efforts to find the owner and to restore to the owner the property. For example, you find a one hundred dollar bill on the street. The name or contact details of the owner cannot be found on it. Plus, there is a lot of foot traffic on that street. It would be impossible to return it to the owner.

When the value of the property is minimal, it cannot be considered a crime, either. For instance, you find a pencil. The value of the pencil is so small, it will not be worth it to prosecute the person who found the pencil and did not return it to the owner, even if the owner’s name and contact details are on the pencil.

Have you been charged with appropriation of lost property? Are you worried about the consequences of being convicted of this crime? Do you want legal advice? Call and speak with any of the criminal defense lawyers at the Ramiro J. Lluis Law Office, they are willing to help you.