Possibility of Criminal Charges Over New iPhone

Illustration for article titled Possibility of Criminal Charges Over New iPhone

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.

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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 — which is why legal action is being considered and not currently in place — 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.

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.

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"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."

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

DISCUSSION

Apple has nothing to do on this.

Pretend you are in a bar and someone does your pockets, or gracefully hides your phone from your view while you get drunk. Then you pawn the phones and get a quick buck. Well that prototype would be jackpot, getting 5K for it. My girlfriend got her phone stolen 2 years ago in strangely similar situation, and only thing that brings attention to this one is the guy wanting to cash in on that phone. We weren't so lucky, and we had to cancel phone, modify passwords for many online services, purchase without plan a new $600 phone. Meh.

I'll repeat what most with correct intent would do: Oh look a phone! Barkeep, here's someone losing that phone, do you know the owner? No? Oh, maybe we can see who's the owner if we open it. No address or secondary phone number? Oh okay, well hope he comes back here.

What they did is a crime, and proud of doing a crime; imagine Miss. Sister Site screaming loud and clear "here is a video of us doing 280 mph on the highways, look how cool and fast this new car goes, we got this shiny car from someone who found it with the keys on the door, we kept it for a whole week, tried it, and dissected it, here see how it works well to kill pedestrians"; OBVIOUSLY state would press criminal charges. Well, it's the same thing.