The bottom line in the scenario is that a crime has been committed, and determining whether a single or two separate crimes have been committed is an issue of contention. A crime itself is an act or omission that is prohibited by public law aimed at protecting society. In most cases, the commission of crimes is followed by criminal punishment in the form of fines, imprisonment, probation, or death sentence in severe cases. Two essential elements that must be present for an act to be defined as a crime are s wrongful act and a criminal or mental intent. In the scenario, Ray’s action can be considered a crime since there is the criminal act of stealing a purse from an unattended car at a gas station. Moreover, there is a mental intent since Ray believes that he can get cash in the purse. During the trial, he argues that he is not guilty of grand theft as he was unaware that the purse contained a gun. This fact raises the question of whether there is a possibility of convicting Ray of grand theft of firearm despite his unawareness of the gun’s presence in the purse.
The type of crime in the scenario is property crime whereby the primary objective of the offender is either an economic gain or damage of another person’s property. Common forms of property crime are robbery and violent crime involving the use of force purposefully to gain the possessions of another person (Miller and Cross 179). Ray’s offense is more of larceny as it involves the unlawful taking of a purse belonging to someone else with the intention of depriving the rightful owner’s possession of the property.
Ray should be convicted of one and not separate crimes as can be argued in specific instances. Often, when an individual commits a crime of stealing or unlawfully taking another person’s property, the degree of crime committed is defined by various factors, including how valuable the goods seized are. In this regard, Ray has illicitly taken cash and a firearm. It cannot be said that he committed two crimes since the occurrence of a separate crime means that there are disconnected incidents or distinct acts of seizing or taking another person’s property. The commission of separate crimes in this scenario would be justified if Ray picked the purse and purposefully took the gun. As already mentioned, Ray had one intention of carrying away the handbag, meaning that he should be convicted once for grand theft of property and grand theft of a firearm.
Ray’s case is similar to the Johnson v. State of Florida case, where Raymond Johnson was convicted and consequently sentenced for grand theft of property and grand theft of a firearm when he snatched a purse that contained both cash and a firearm. In the Johnson v. State of Florida case, the Supreme Court ruled that the offender had a single intent and a single act of taking the handbag (Johnson v. State). This fact means that he committed grand theft of a firearm as well and was convicted of the same despite not knowing the contents of the stolen purse.
Despite not being aware of the fact that the gun was in the purse, Ray should be convicted of grand theft of both cash and a firearm.
Johnson v. State. 597 So. 2d 798. Supreme Court of Florida. April 30, 192. Justia US Law, law.justia.com/cases/florida/supreme-court/1992/77588-0.html.
Miller, Roger L. R, and Frank B. Cross. The Legal Environment Today: Business in Its Ethical, Regulatory, E-Commerce, and International Setting. Thomson/West, 2007.