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Stealing from an auto accident victim leads to harsher criminal penalties

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Let’s say you’re out one day on a drive. As you near a level crossing where the road intersects with a railway, you hear a terrifying crash. A car tried to beat the red light and ended up colliding with the passing train. There’s nobody else on the road, so you take it upon yourself to approach the accident scene and help any injured.

When you approach the wrecked car, you notice that the driver – the only occupant of the vehicle – is alive but unconscious. He has injuries, but none are immediately life-threatening. The impact of the crash was enough to bust open the driver-side door, so you easily and carefully pull the knocked-out driver out of the wreck.

As you help the wounded driver out of the car, you notice that the man is wearing a very expensive watch. You reason that the man might think he lost his watch in the crash once he regains consciousness, so you take it off his wrist before calling 911.

By taking the unconscious man’s watch, you’ve committed a criminal offense by Michigan law. This type of theft crime is treated so seriously, that the penalties on conviction are extremely harsh.

Larceny from car or persons detained or injured by accident

According to Michigan law, any person who steals from any car while it’s detained by accident or from a person detained, injured or killed by an accident is committing the offense of larceny from a car or persons detained or injured by accident.

Heavy penalties for those who take advantage of crash victims

Larceny from a car or person injured in an accident is a felony offense. On conviction, a person will spend up to 20 years in a state prison and pay as much as $10,000 in fines. These penalties will apply regardless of the total value of items stolen from the wrecked vehicle or injured victim.

By comparison, the highest penalty for a larceny offense involving items worth $20,000 or more is up to 10 years of prison and $15,000 in fines.

Stealing from people who just got into a vehicular collision is a reprehensible offense, mainly because offenders are exploiting crash victims when they’re most vulnerable. Anyone who faces charges should discuss their case with a legal professional because a conviction will lead to decades of prison time.

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