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Name: People v. Jesus O.
Case #: S140865
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/08/2007

A person, with the intent to steal, who causes the property to become separated from the victim’s person and then takes the property is guilty of grand theft person. The holding in this case expanded that of People v. McElroy (1897) 116 Cal. 58l3 which required a taking from the victim’s person. Here, the two juveniles approached the victims and asked for money and then punched one of the victims. A fight ensued but when one of the juveniles pulled a knife and threatened one of the victims, the victims fled. One of the victims inadvertently dropped a cell phone. Looking back, the victims saw one of the juveniles pick it up and put it in his pocket. The Court observed that the evidence indicated that the juveniles had the intent to steal when the assault began–the requisite intent to steal is not intent to steal specific property–so that the taking began with the assault when the phone was still on the victim’s person. The victim did not willingly relinquish personal possession of the phone but lost it only because of the juveniles’ wrongful acts. This finding was not ex post facto as it did not retroactively enlarge a criminal statute but only interpreted it.