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Name: People v. Bell
Case #: B223803
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/20/2011

Where renter uses false identification to qualify for lease and subsequently fails to pay rent, there is sufficient evidence of intent to permanently deprive the property owner of the leasehold interest, to sustain a grand theft conviction. Defendant used another’s personal identifying information to qualify for an apartment lease. She soon was late and/or defaulted on the rent and was evicted. A jury convicted her of identity theft, making a false financial statement and grand theft. On appeal she challenged the sufficiency of the evidence of theft by false pretenses because she had no intent to permanently deprive the lessor of property. The intent to deprive permanently is a flexible concept and not to be taken literally. An intent to deprive the owner of the main value of his property is sufficient. Therefore, the intent to deprive the lessor of a leasehold interest, here, defendant’s failure to pay rent during her occupancy, was sufficient evidence of her intent to permanently deprive the lessor of property. In a concurring/dissenting opinion, J. Rothschild said the majority opinion alters the law of theft to allow merely a showing the defendant intended to deprive the owner permanently of a temporary interest in possession. He would reverse the theft conviction.