On April 19, sister site Gizmodo.com broke the exclusive news that Apple has been working on a new iPhone. Now, authorities are considering whether to file criminal charges over its sale, reports The New York Times.

According to NY Times blog Bits Blog, the district attorney in San Mateo County in California has the option of filing charges against possibly both buyer and seller, and people involved with the investigation tell the site that the D.A. could file charges early next week.

Under California law, it is illegal to sell stolen goods. Moreover, a person who uses the property of others without permission could be legally be guilty of theft.
Gizmodo.com came into possession of the phone after it was apparently lost in a bar ā€” which is why legal action is being considered and not currently in place ā€” and after unsuccessful attempts at returning the phone to Apple. It was later revealed by Gawker Media, parent company of both Gizmodo and Kotaku, that $5,000 was paid for the iPhone. If property is not worth over US$950, the case will be classified as a misdemeanor. But since $5,000 was paid for the phone, it would be considered a felony.

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The phone has since been returned to Apple. Late Friday, Gawker Media informed The New York Times that it has not been contacted by any authorities regarding this issue.

"If there is any case that arises out of our office at this point the police have not submitted for prosecution," said Stephen Wagstaffe, San Mateo County's chief deputy district attorney. Moreover, Wagstaffe said that in some cases of missing property, "we call it misappropriation of lost property; it's a crime but it's not theft."

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Criminal Charges Possible in the Case of the Lost iPhone [NYTimes]