Q: Can u be charged with theft if u find a cell phone at a gas station
Yes, you sure can. The laws pertaining to theft in the state of Minnesota are fairly simple. As a general matter, if you find someone else's lost property (it doesn't matter where) and take it with the intent of keeping it for yourself (without first making a reasonable effort to find the owner and return it), that is one classic definition of theft under Minnesota law. All the law cares about is that you knew it wasn't yours and took it anyway, thereby depriving the rightful owner of the property permanently. If the value of the phone is <$500, it would be misdemeanor theft. If the phone is valued between $500-$1,000, it would be gross misdemeanor theft.
To put this in perspective: I once had a client with theft because they took a set of golf clubs propped up against a trash bin outside of a furniture store. The client thought the golf clubs had been abandoned because they were sitting next to a garbage can, but when the rightful owner returned to find the golf clubs missing, he filed a police report and the client was charged with theft (it was a felony charge because the golf clubs were valued >$1,000). It was an innocent mistake of course, but it didn't stop authorities from bringing charges against that person because he took them and knew they were not his.
So bottom line: if you take something of value from somewhere that you did not purchase, come into possession of lawfully (i.e. as a gift), or have the owner's consent to take, you can be charged with theft in MN.
I hope this helps!
A: Yes. A better plan may be to turn it in to gas station operator for potential return to the owner, should they return for it.. If already facing a theft charge, be sure to get help from a criminal defense attorney.
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