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Should Snatching an iPhone Be a Felony?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the only-if-it's-not-jailbroken dept.

Crime 607

theodp writes "English comedian Russell Brand could be facing a felony conviction for snatching an iPhone from a would-be paparazzi and tossing it through a window. Singer/parolee Chris Brown also found himself in iPhone hot water after being charged with 'robbery by snatching' in a similar DIY-paparazzi-thwarting incident, which could be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value placed on an iPhone. But in the world-of-crazy-pricing created by phone makers and wireless providers ($899 Nokia Windows Phone, anyone?), where the quoted price of an iPhone varies by a factor of 376 from the same company, should one really be charged with a felony for snatching an iPhone, especially when an iPad 2 can be had for $399 retail?"

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it doesnt matter really (-1, Troll)

FrozenFood (2515360) | about 2 years ago | (#39394137)

I hate apple, but if anyone were to steal my electronics/car, etc, I would happlily see them stood up against a wall and shot.

Re:it doesnt matter really (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394205)

Shooting someone over a worthless piece of electronics. You must be Duhmerican!

Re:it doesnt matter really (0, Offtopic)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39394261)

Now, I know this is sudden, but... hear me out. Please. Just hear me out.

I'm a buttnude.

Now use Gamemaker.

Re:it doesnt matter really (5, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#39394249)

I hate apple

Replace "iPhone" with "phone" or "mobile" or "smartphone" and absolutely nothing relevant changes.

That's it, though, isn't it? The story doesn't even involve Apple or its products save that it incidentally happened to be the brand of the specific stolen overpriced electronic toy. Hell, no iPad's were involved at all, and yet this click-bait summary managed to work them in anyhow all while mentioning that you can get one for less than the well-publicized $499!

When I clicked the check box to disable advertising I didn't expect the ads to reappear as articles. This is getting ridiculous.

Re:it doesnt matter really (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394295)

I wish we could give a -1 Troll to articles themselves.

Re:it doesnt matter really (5, Insightful)

firefrei (2569069) | about 2 years ago | (#39394459)

overpriced electronic toy

I'm not an Apple fan, but an iPhone is not overpriced for the amount of quality design and hardware you get for it, and it's not a toy - it's a powerful portable computer that can do some impressive and useful things. A Tonka truck is an example of a toy, in case you've forgotten how to describe things without hyperbole.

Re:it doesnt matter really (3, Funny)

FrozenFood (2515360) | about 2 years ago | (#39394499)

no really, its a toy.

If I connect an ipad to my desktop, windows detects it as an "entertainment device"

Re:it doesnt matter really (0, Troll)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#39394533)

If I connect an ipad to my desktop, windows detects it as an "entertainment device"

That is so pathetic; most people I know with iPads use theirs more for work than entertainment. I can see why Microsoft shills on this site would try to push the "it's just a toy" message, it's one of their arguable points. Doing it at the operating system level, however, is really unprofessional, but most of all desperate.

Yes, Microsoft, we get it. You want everyone to think you need Windows to do work. It's not true and everybody knows it. Try to be more subtle and you might get this into people's unconscious thinking. Point out sensible missing features and you might get people to buy both an iPad and a PC. Do it this openly and you just look out of touch.

Demand a jury trial (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#39394275)

This brings to mind a current activist motion to defeat the US injustice system by demanding a speedy trial due under the Constitution and so creating a DDoS on the courts. If everybody so charged demanded their full rights, the courts must necessarily absolve most as they have not the time nor space to convict them.

Re:Demand a jury trial (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39394517)

This brings to mind a current activist motion to defeat the US injustice system by demanding a speedy trial

And it also illustrates the stupidity of that suggestion. He can choose between a plea bargain for a misdemeanor and pay a small fine, or try to be an "activist" and face certain conviction for a felony.

It's not clear to me what cause he would be supporting by demanding a trial though; are you suggesting we all have a right to grab someone's phone and destroy it because they annoy us?

Why not? (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#39394141)

This is no different than pick pocketing someone.

Usually stealing something directly from someone's person is a serious offense no matter how worthless it is.

Hell, if force is used it becomes robbery.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 2 years ago | (#39394211)

I think the summary is just using the story as real-life example of the ludicrous nature of mobile phone pricing structures. No-one is questioning the right/wrong of the offence, but it appears US law determines the seriousness of the offence based on the value of the goods. The question becomes how much is your free/subsidised phone worth? A question only clouded by the lack of transparency in the pricing models of phone companies/manufacturers.

Personally, I believe the ideal of weighting the seriousness of a crime on the monetary value of the goods stolen is inherently flawed. Which is worse - tossing the phone of a paparazzi? Or stealing a sandwich from a homeless guy? It appears that US law may consider damaging a wealthy man's toy to be worthy of a greater punishment than depriving a poor man of his food for a day.

Re:Why not? (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | about 2 years ago | (#39394219)

That's why I always carry black PVC tape and super glue. Stick it on and give it back. Not that I'm a celeb mind you.....

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394351)

how much is your free/subsidised phone worth?

Simple. As much as you can expect to sell it for.

In the case of taking a paparazzi's phone and throwing it away, I'd claim self defense and render the question moot.

Why does his privacy have not value? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394367)

The interesting thing here is that the iPhone may have enough value to make this a felony, but his privacy has no value at all. Paparazzi can follow and harass him all they like and he can do nothing about it. Now you might not have sympathy for celebs, but they do the same thing to mothers of murder victims and others. A (British) paparazzi only today followed the mother of one of the dead Belgium schoolchildren (coach crash in Switzerland) to get 'sad mother' shot.

IMHO, throwing a paparazzi camera out of a window should have no more value than the damage to the phone. It was NOT THEFT, he can go get his phone, it was not assault, he did not hit the Paparazzi. It was not a mugging, no threat of violence was used. I don't even rank this the same as taking a normal persons phone and throwing it out the window because the Paparazzi was the person who came into close proximity and shoved the camea phone in his face.

He didn't go seek out the Paparazzi, the reason they're in conflict is entirely the Paparazzi actions.

So it's a misdemeanor since it's paparazzi, or possibly a 'jolley jape'.

Re:Why does his privacy have not value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394461)

In most states this is robbery by force or fear. The same charge as armed robbery, difference is one your armed, other you use force or fear. There should be a reverse clause, if it is a paparazzi rather than getting charged with a felony, you should get a parade as a hero.

Re:Why does his privacy have not value? (2)

Entropius (188861) | about 2 years ago | (#39394535)

He's claiming that it's not robbery since there was no taking of property.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394435)

Which is worse - tossing the phone of a paparazzi? Or stealing a sandwich from a homeless guy?

The law protects absolute dollars. So its the price of an over-hyped toy versus the cost of a snack. This is why the law is for the rich; and the lawyers who bend it to their will.

Let me guess - you're a liberal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394509)

"Which is worse - tossing the phone of a paparazzi? Or stealing a sandwich from a homeless guy? It appears that US law may consider damaging a wealthy man's toy to be worthy of a greater punishment than depriving a poor man of his food for a day."

DEPRIVING A POOR MAN OF HIS FOOD FOR A DAY.

Oh, the horrors! Because people are always stealing food from homeless people, aren't they?

You fucking idiot.

The problem here is that Crashdot is full of idiots who worship scum like Russell Brand, JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE 'FAMOUS'.

Chris Rock and Russell Brand are both arrogant assholes, and the same laws apply to them as to everybody else. If they are allowed to get away with this, then presumably I can go up to every single person I see with a phone in their hand, steal it from them (by grabbing it out of their hand) and then throw it down the street, right? And I can do that over and over and over again, twenty times a day, without being charged, right?

Re:Why not? (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#39394237)

Taking it out of someone's hands involves a lot more force (and less skill) than pick pocketing someone.

That said, intention is important too. To me (not the courts) it is whether he intended to permanently deprive the person of the item. Since he threw it through a window my guess is yes, but it was more a "destruction of private property" act.

But if someone was trying to take pictures of you and you knocked the phone/camera away and out of their hands, to me that's not robbery or theft. But still an offense (that could be mitigated depending on how much an asshole the photographer was being at the time[1]).

[1] Which does not seem to apply in this particular case.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394313)

But if someone was trying to take pictures of you and you knocked the phone/camera away and out of their hands

I hope they had permission to do so. If not, I'm someone who would certainly smash their camera and/or delete the picture myself. I'm prepared for the consequences of that.

Also, I think arbitrarily deciding who is more important based on opinions of who is and who is not an "asshole" is an awful idea. Too vague and ambiguous.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394427)

<quote>I think arbitrarily deciding who is more important based on opinions of who is and who is not an "asshole" is an awful idea.</quote>
That's what courts and juries do all the time. The laws say a certain bunch of things, but the world is a lot messier.

I heard in Texas there's a good chance the jury will acquit you if they think your victim "needed killing".

Re:Why not? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 2 years ago | (#39394311)

  Well, the charges change with the degree of force, and other factors.

    A pick pocket won't have made any physical threat. Ideally, they would have the job started and finished before the mark knew what was happening.

    From the article, there appears to be a physical threat, destruction of private property, and disturbing the peace. In cases like this, pick a side, they're both probably just as guilty of some of those charges and more.

    Taking someone's phone and tossing it? IMHO, that should be a misdemeanor at best in any jurisdiction. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or whatever. The only way I could imagine it being expensive enough to consider a felony would be if it were some elusive prototype.

    Disclaimer: IANAL and everything varies by jurisdiction. Consult with a local attorney for appropriate local information.

Re:Why not? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 years ago | (#39394369)

You forget the possible value of the contents on the device.

So bring the offender to court on a felony charge regardless of if it was a pick pocket or robbery. If someone takes inappropriate pictures - then charge them with that instead.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | about 2 years ago | (#39394357)

Hell, if force is used it becomes robbery.

Snatching anything out of anyone's hand is legally considered force, and is thus automatically a robbery. (Just like civil battery is the same tort of "battery" regardless of if it results in grievous bodily injury or is just an ear flick, or a poke.)

The difference is most people let a lot of misdemeanors and/or torts go by, because doing something about it would cost more than the harm done.

I learned about this because I actually had a piece of evidence snatched out of my hands in the halls of a court house. Pissed me off to no end, and the cops didn't understand what criminal act could have been committed. It wasn't until much later that I learned that it was technically robbery. (Same guy later went on to break into our apartment and steal more evidence, and my netbook just 2 days before the hearing about my protection order against him.)

Re:Why not? (-1)

glorybe (946151) | about 2 years ago | (#39394381)

Worse yet it is called strong arm robbery and can carry a lot of years in prison even on the first offence. Somehow throwing people in prison for this kind of crime seems like a great idea to me. Some crimes are under valued. For example countless gasoline would be saved if people could bicycle about without having their bicycles stolen or needing to take time to constantly secure them. The damage to society from simple bicycle theft if greater than that from bank robberies. There are also considerable numbers of deaths and injuries that occur in the process of bicycle thefts. We need a minimum sentence on all bicycle thefts of several years in prison to stop this common crime. In essence society needs to demand and enforce the notion that a person be in control of their behavior at all times. We have gone from a nation that did not need to lock their doors at night to a nation that is forced to secure belongings constantly in the last five decades.

Re:Why not? (3, Interesting)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 2 years ago | (#39394417)

Yes, so we've established this is a crime. That's not disputed.

But there are underlying reason why it was a crime, why that crime is assigned the penalty it has been, and why the legislators implement a price breakdown in the first place. If the specific law does not continue to correspond accurately with those intentions, it probably is being misapplied and/or needs to be modified.

One major function of the penalty (if not the only function) is to act as a deterrent. This means it needs to offset the potential gain to the offender in a way that accounts for his probability of being caught. In this case, a "robbery" charge is silly: robbers get a financial payoff and generally operate so as to escape penalty. Publically tossing someone's property obviously should involve assessing a different penalty because there is no financial reward and the chances of getting away with it are minimal.

Another key difference is where the perpetrator does not understand the value of the property. If someone grabs an unknown electronic item from you and damages it, how important is the price to whether he should be allowed to vote or made to spend significant time in prison? Seems to me that as long as he is required to make full restitution for the cost of the item, the additional criminal penalty should be roughly the same for most cases.

Consider, why did the legislators include a price breakdown at all? One reason may have been increased deterrence for major heists, another may have simply been to target particularly egregious offenses. Neither of which seems to me like something which should depend on whether it was an iPhone or a Nokia.

Re:Why not? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#39394489)

Why not?

Sheesh, this takes fanboism to a whole new level. Stealing is one thing, but being charged with a felony because you picked up the wrong f#cking phone (all iphones look the same) off the bar is just wrong.

If you get robbed/pwned/mugged/beaten it shouldn't matter what was taken. Let's not go making iLaws for christ sakes.

It already is (5, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#39394143)

It's already a felony in basically every democratic city in the world to snatch whatever private property someone else owns, and tossing it away like that (out the window).

It's not yours, so you can't snatch it, it's that simple. Nothing complex about it.

Re:It already is (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394167)

Indeed. The only question the story raises - why is Russel Brand considered a comedian?

Being cocky and a loud mouth makes you funny now? I'm glad he moved over to the states, he should fit right in over there. We were already really sick of him.

Re:It already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394229)

This thread is now about crimes against comedy. Presenting the co-defendant: Dane Cook.

Re:It already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394343)

What I'd love to see - a kind of "comedy debate" between idiots like Brand and Cook facing off against the real talent, people like Carlin, Izzard, Hicks (ah Hicks, how we miss you).

Make it unscripted and weep with laughter as these two trick ponies get publically ridiculed.

Sorry for the off topic thread, but it makes me almost physically sick to be subjected in passing to listening to their piss weak attempts at humour.

Re:It already is (1)

pthisis (27352) | about 2 years ago | (#39394387)

Unfortunately just after Louis CK delivered a particular scathing line for team talent, Gallagher would squash him with a novelty-size mallet.

Re:It already is (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39394471)

I was going to point out that dead comedians tended not to be very funny. Then I remembered that you were comparing them to Russell Brand...

Re:It already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394365)

And the prosecution: the spirits of Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Bill Hicks.

Re:It already is (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394181)

It is certainly a crime, but should it be a *felony*? Basically, should you have your gun ownership, voting, working, and a host of other rights nullified for tossing someone else's iPhone?

Re:It already is (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#39394263)

I don't think people should even lose their voting rights unless one of their crimes was to screw with the election system or results.

Doesn't matter even if they're a convicted murderer. They should still be allowed to vote. Maybe even from prison (unless we don't trust the prisons to not tamper with or influence the votes).

Re:It already is (2, Insightful)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | about 2 years ago | (#39394513)

I don't think people should even lose their voting rights unless one of their crimes was to screw with the election system or results.

Doesn't matter even if they're a convicted murderer. They should still be allowed to vote. Maybe even from prison (unless we don't trust the prisons to not tamper with or influence the votes).

Wait, what? Why would I want my democracy's rules to be determined by the same people who've proven they don't care about the rules?

They already did vote. Their vote said "I'm special, the our rules don't apply to me because I'm strong or smart enough to game the system." Well, guess they were overruled on that one.

"Voting is a right", some may say, but democracy is a fragile privilege defended only by mutual agreement between citizens of a society. When a citizen decides to break that agreement for his her own gain, that is in effect a vote of no confidence in that society. Sorry, you don't get to both ignore the rules and then make them up for everyone else. (Unless you're rich enough to write your own undemocratic laws, of course, but then you wouldn't be in jail to begin with.)

Re:It already is (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394209)

Bingo. It's got nothing to do with iPhones. Brand is an ass who thinks he's above the law. If he feels injured by someone taking a photograph, then he can report it to the police or sue -- neither he nor anyone else has greater remedy, nor do they have less available to them. That's how it works. This egotistical dickhead wants to return to Privilege.

Re:It already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394269)

It's yet another advert for Apple passing as a story.

Re:It already is (2)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 2 years ago | (#39394305)

It's yet another advert for Apple passing as a story.

I don't think so. Where's the pro-Apple angle? I must have missed these endorsements:

Apple - the paparazzi's choice. Protecting your privacy, while you invade someone else's...

Russell Brand, England's premier comedian, says "I only throw Apple phones, no other manufacturer's phones are weighted for the same distance and accuracy".

The iPhone - with an 18 month contract, it's a steal. (Off contract, it's a felony...)

Re:It already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394243)

Because "felony" is a term used by every democratic city in the world, and not just those in North America.

Re:It already is (4, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#39394247)

It's already a felony in basically every democratic city in the world to snatch whatever private property someone else owns, and tossing it away like that (out the window).

In Germany, it isn't theft, when you are not trying to enrich yourself. Next, in the case of killing a person, there are distinctions being made between pre-meditated or spontaneous cases, or whether the death of the person was intented. In this particular case, there was no intent that the paparazzi would lose their phone, the intent was to protect someone's privacy.

Re:It already is (1)

Babbster (107076) | about 2 years ago | (#39394297)

I could be wrong but isn't there an assault here as well? It's obviously a violent act to grab something out of another person's hand against their will and then there's the second violent act of throwing the phone through a window. If that happened to me, I'd certainly be in fear of further violence against me. Thus, it would seem to rise to the level of assault.

Of course, an assault can still be a misdemeanor but there would seem to be the potential for multiple charges arising from the incident.

One final note: Can you really be called "paparazzi" if you're doing the job with an iPhone? Yeah, the cameras in them are okay but wouldn't their quality be beaten handily by even a relatively cheap, dedicated camera?

Not since 1967 in Englnd and Wales (2)

fantomas (94850) | about 2 years ago | (#39394409)

Apparently felony was abolished in the Criminal Law Act 1967 [wikipedia.org] in England and Wales "which made all felonies (except treason) misdemeanours". Arrestable offences were abolished in 2006. [wikipedia.org]

Re:It already is (5, Informative)

julesh (229690) | about 2 years ago | (#39394421)

It's already a felony in basically every democratic city in the world to snatch whatever private property someone else owns, and tossing it away like that (out the window).

There's an awful lot wrong with this statement.

1. The word "felony" is a technical word from US law that has a very specific meaning, and one which refers to a distinction most other countries do not (any longer) make. We have criminal offenses, which have varying scales of punishments, but we do not have the notion of different categories of offence like this. In the UK, for example, we have only a distinction between "indictable" and "summary" offences, which determines whether a jury trial is required (only for indictable offences) and whether a punishment of more than 12 months imprisonment is available (also only for indictable offenses). A felony corresponds most closely to an indictable offence, but the distinction is not really the same at all.

2. At least here in the UK, this would not be considered either theft or robbery. Theft is defined as "taking someone else's property with the intent to permanently deprive them of its use". Robbery is "taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear." As there was no intent to permanently deprive, neither offense occurred.

It may or may not be another offense. If contact was made with the holder of the phone, it may be battery, a summary offense carrying a maximum term of 6 months imprisonment in the UK. Note that battery is a less serious offence in the UK than in the US as it does not require harm to be caused. If no contact was made, but a reasonable person would have feared violence in the situation, it may be common assault, which carries a similar penalty. If neither of these occurred, but the phone was damaged, it may be criminal damage, which is also a summary offence with a maximum penalty of only 3 months imprisonment. In the event there was no touching, no threat of violence, and no damage to the phone, it isn't clear to me that any offence would have occurred at all had this happened in the UK. In any event, none of these offences are considered especially serious, and so are not in the category that we would most commonly consider as parallel to a felony.

Re:It already is (1)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 2 years ago | (#39394431)

Hmmm... Since you didn't use the IANAL defence, and have posted a well-informed comment, I'm going to have to assume that YAAL.

Quick everyone - mod this patent-loving, blood-sucker down!

/kidding

Re:It already is (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | about 2 years ago | (#39394483)

I agree with you. I don't understand why so many other posters think this is a robbery.

Shouldn't a crime require intent? If not, people should be charged with theft whenever they move a chair at a restaurant. This is property damage/vandalism. Nothing to see here, move along...

Well... (3, Insightful)

acehole (174372) | about 2 years ago | (#39394145)

Maybe. When I mean 'maybe' I mean maybe when I'm pissing off random thieves on the street by shoving my phone in their face repeatedly until I get a reaction.

Maybe then.

Yes (2)

phoebusQ (539940) | about 2 years ago | (#39394151)

Why is this a question?

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 2 years ago | (#39394163)

Why is this a question?

Because this is an answer.

O, in that case (2)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 2 years ago | (#39394153)

Might as well punch the paparazzi in the face...

Was it loaded with songs? (4, Interesting)

giminy (94188) | about 2 years ago | (#39394159)

See http://www.ted.com/talks/rob_reid_the_8_billion_ipod.html [ted.com] . Perhaps the iPhone is worth $8 billion (I mean, you are technically stealing every song on the iPhone as well as the phone itself).

It's more than that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394177)

It's also destruction of data. Maybe this is akin to hacking a website and deleting the data? Not to mention the time and effort to recover the data, if at all possible.

Why bother stealing the phone? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394179)

1. Wear something copyrighted.
2. Sue the paparazzi for copyright infringement.
3. PROFIT!!!!

What is up with all these bad summaries lately? (3, Insightful)

Elbart (1233584) | about 2 years ago | (#39394189)

This is not about an iPhone being thrown around, it's about someone else's property being damaged in excess of $500 and that being a felony in Louisiana. Whoopdeedoo, big deal.

Re:What is up with all these bad summaries lately? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394233)

This is actually a story about two things, paparazzi invading people's private lives, and a prison industrial complex that encourages and indeed forces the criminal justice system to impose multi-year prison terms for petty offences for the sake of profit.

Only on slashdot could a bunch of autistic dolts think it's about "mobile phone pricing structures".

In Russell Brand's case (0)

fireylord (1074571) | about 2 years ago | (#39394349)

It's about the chance to have a talentless shock jock locked up, and in that I approve.

Re:In Russell Brand's case (1)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 2 years ago | (#39394379)

Since Steve Jobs died I cannot bear to see anyone use an iphone irreverently, what I did was a tribute to his memory.

This tweet was quoted in TFA. To be fair, he's quite funny when he wants to be - so "talentless" seems a harsh assessment.

Re:What is up with all these bad summaries lately? (2, Interesting)

snowgirl (978879) | about 2 years ago | (#39394377)

... and a prison industrial complex that encourages and indeed forces the criminal justice system to impose multi-year prison terms for petty offences for the sake of profit.

.

While I agree that the prison-industrial complex is out of hand. If someone snatched a Fabergé egg out of someone's hand and threw it, no one would be doubting if it were a felonious act. It's clearly an expensive object, taken by force, and then damaged.

As others have noted, it's not about excessive criminal sentences for snatching and damaging another's expensive property, it's about gauging the proper value of an "overpriced electronic toy".

Re:What is up with all these bad summaries lately? (2)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 2 years ago | (#39394235)

Yes, but I think the summary is intended to provoke discussion on whether the property is worth in excess of $500 or whether the prices just reflect an industry desire to tie consumers to expensive contracts with the promise of huge discounts/savings on handsets.

Re:What is up with all these bad summaries lately? (4, Insightful)

Trecares (416205) | about 2 years ago | (#39394403)

Shouldn't consideration be given to the "replacement" cost? I mean, Apple or any other cellphone maker/seller isn't going to replace a phone damaged by another person's mischief. Insurance, if applicable probably does not cover such cases directly.

On top of that, the prosecutor usually goes for the maximum applicable charge. That way they don't look soft on crime, and it gives them the option of a plea agreement. It's all about intimidation. 60 days of jail plus a fine or whatever sounds a hell lot better than 10 years or whatever it comes out to; as opposed to them offering you 60 days at the onset.

Felony, no. (4, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | about 2 years ago | (#39394193)

There is already too much crime. Civil liability should be enough. If it's unprovoked, simple battery might be in order. But felony?

Stop being so damn blood-thirsty. Breaking somebody's device because they shove it in your face should not ruin lives and occupations.

Re:Felony, no. (1)

snowgirl (978879) | about 2 years ago | (#39394385)

If it's unprovoked, simple battery might be in order.

Except snatching something is robbery. If the value of the object is small enough, then it's a misdemeanor robbery, if it's expensive enough, it's a felony robbery.

No one seems to have difficulty understanding that if you steal a candy bar, that it's a misdemeanor, while if you steal an expensive television it's a felony... so, why does anyone have trouble differentiating misdemeanor vs felony robbery?

Re:Felony, no. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394485)

>There is already too much crime.
So we'll redefine what is a crime so there'll be less of it. Splendid idea.

sticking a metal device in my face? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394195)

you'll get shot

Re:sticking a metal device in my face? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | about 2 years ago | (#39394389)

you'll get shot

And you'll go to jail for escalating force well beyond what is reasonable...

Unless you can show that you had an actual fear that it were a weapon endangering your life, and you had no duty to retreat. (Some states hold that if you are in public, you have a duty to attempt to run away before you attempt lethal force. In a few states, this duty even applies inside your own home.)

criminalising theft is a waste of resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394201)

Only taking what people need to be productive should be a crime.

Russell Brand willingly does no useful work, therefore he needs nothing, therefore nothing can be his in law.

Of course, the paparazzo is doing no useful work either, so should he have any legal right to his iPhone?

The solution is not to waste state resources on either of them. Let them fight to the death or something.

$899 Nokia Windows Phone? (3, Informative)

kanto (1851816) | about 2 years ago | (#39394221)

Are the paparazzi carrying the accessories of that bundle? [microsoftstore.com] Individually bought the Purity HD headset is about 150-200$ and the Play360 speaker maybe 100-150$. Slantdot editing at it's finest.

Re:$899 Nokia Windows Phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394525)

I was hoping someone would point that out... $900 for some expensive accessories on top of the phone.. facepalm.

I agree with the Article's title... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394223)

Owning a iPhone should be considered a phelony.

Re:I agree with the Article's title... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394265)

It's already phaggotry.

Price of phone not the issue (2)

Green Salad (705185) | about 2 years ago | (#39394231)

The price of the phone is not what makes it valuable or its loss dangerous. That's like considering the price of the paper to determine the severity of the offense of the hold-up note to a bank teller.

Re:Price of phone not the issue (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394279)

That's like considering the price of the paper to determine the severity of the offense of the hold-up note to a bank teller.

fiat currency's are literally worth exactly that.

(roman_mir hear, forgot my pass word)

Typo in article summary; word "comedian" redundant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394259)

As an Englishman, please please please America take this jerk lock him up in Cuba. In return we ^H^H I will happily take Katy, well after July who we will also lock up in restraints!!

Re:Typo in article summary; word "comedian" redund (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394337)

It actually belongs to mother America. Why pollute Cuba? Is it not enough that Iraq and Afghanistan are polluted?

How can it be stealing? (1)

slugstone (307678) | about 2 years ago | (#39394267)

if someone sticks something out at me at arms length. Are they not giving it to me?

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394273)

So long as its just pushy type paparazzi involved. How about we just forget the whole thing.

Until it happens to someone who respects others space and privacy.. Tell the paparazzi to stfu.

Because i have no problem with people disrespecting and damaging their expensive toy while they were most likely trying to film someone who didnt want to be bothered. And if they were in range to have their iphone grabbed and tossed. They were bothering someone. Famous or not i don't care...
They are not public servants paid by everyones tax money. The public has no right to intrude on anyones life with a camera.

The not so new boss (1)

neurosine (549673) | about 2 years ago | (#39394281)

I don't think government or civil funded agencies should be working for organizations, or associated with them. This is what the legal realities of our world today are all about. So many resources that could be used to better us all are paying to protect the interests of companies. It's great that the founding fathers separated church and state. They should have more clearly stated the intended separation of privately held company and state. I think if they had more clearly foreseen the world today they would certainly strengthen that principal. Not that they didn't try, but those safeties have been systematically circumvented. It is obviously destroying our world and is by far the largest contributor to the downfall of us as a species.... I'm hoping the next fish do better.

I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394299)

It should be classed more as a favor

Ahh! Can /. stop using The Daily Mail is a Source? (2)

ConaxConax (1886430) | about 2 years ago | (#39394301)

In the style of the worst newspapers, the Daily Mail start with the result they want and steer all discourse towards it, even if it means twisting and lying along the path. They will just make it up if they need to do so, and there have been a lot of cases where this has happened!

Re:Ahh! Can /. stop using The Daily Mail is a Sour (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394321)

Yes. Even in this article they managed to make the first two sentences about immigration.

What do you mean? (1)

fireylord (1074571) | about 2 years ago | (#39394363)

As the worst newspaper around, the Daily Mail start with the result they want and steer all discourse towards it, even if it means twisting and lying along the path. They will just make it up if they need to do so, and there have been a lot of cases where this has happened!

FTFY

it should be a capital offense IMHO (2)

Adult film producer (866485) | about 2 years ago | (#39394303)

People worked hard for many hours to buy their iPhone... to just dismiss this as a trivial offense is shocking to me.

Nah, it is just like taking an Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394319)

It is just like taking an apple, so why the fuzz?

$899 Nokia Windows Phone, anyone?)" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394339)

"($899 Nokia Windows Phone, anyone?)"
That link goes directly to a bundle deal which includes a Nokia Lumia 800 AND a pair of Nokia Purity HD stereo headphones by Monster AND a Nokia Play 360 wireless Bluetooth speaker AND a Nokia Luna Bluetooth headset. The Lumia 800 can be expected to retail for €500 or so when released in the US.

dont like the prices of smartphones? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 2 years ago | (#39394393)

then vote with your wallet, i have never owned an iphone or any other brand of smartphone for exactly that reason, i refuse to spend as much on a cellphone as i would a desktop or laptop computer, i opted to buy a cheap Tracfone for for around 29 bucks and buy a pre-paid card to program it with by three months at a time, that way if my phone gets lost or stolen or broken i have not lost much on it

Re:dont like the prices of smartphones? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 years ago | (#39394465)

then vote with your wallet, i have never owned an iphone or any other brand of smartphone for exactly that reason, i refuse to spend as much on a cellphone as i would a desktop or laptop computer, i opted to buy a cheap Tracfone for for around 29 bucks and buy a pre-paid card to program it with by three months at a time, that way if my phone gets lost or stolen or broken i have not lost much on it

but you miss out on having live location and status feeds of you anus posed to facebook and twitter

That's WHY they are called 'updates'

He's as funny as the obscene phone calls he made (0)

phonewebcam (446772) | about 2 years ago | (#39394413)

This guy is generally despised in the UK [dailymail.co.uk] . In fact when he was caught making his obscene calls and the BBC was fined by Ofcom because of it [dailyrecord.co.uk] he said "All I ever wanted to do was make people laugh".

Well Russell, start when you're ready.

Considering the religious aspect of Apple.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394423)

Maybe it should be considered an act of sacrilege.

Just keep him there.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394429)

From a UK perspective I think it's definitely desirable to have him in jail over there. Just keep him. If he threatens to be released, find something else.

(no, I don't like him. Why? Can you tell?)

Re:Just keep him there.. (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | about 2 years ago | (#39394475)

Yes, its amazing how many Americans don't realise he scurried off over there to avoid the fallout [telegraph.co.uk] from his disgusting obscene phone call "joke". The kind which, naturally, had a member of the public done exactly the same would have got them prosecuted.

$399? (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | about 2 years ago | (#39394443)

$399? The iPad2 is priced at $1055.28 for the cheap non-3G one over here! *sits in a corner and grumbles about rich countries getting the lowest prices*

Should be a felony... (1)

ninsega (2574265) | about 2 years ago | (#39394445)

More than the money value of the phone, a phone is a communication device. For that reason alone it should be a felony to snatch any phone.

I pose this question (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 years ago | (#39394453)

sHOULD IpHONING A sNATCH bE A fELONY?

Sean Penn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394467)

Sean Penn pulled this off once without theft. He just punched the asshole in his fucking face. Russell Brand is a far cry from that... however, the real question, all hatred of Apple aside, did Brand take something that did not belong to him? Did he make it impossible for the owner easily to retrieve it? Did he do so with malicious intent?

The question of it being an iPhony or iFad or whatever is irrelevant. It is not up to the thief, or the community at large to determine whether or not it should be a crime because we think whatever it was either is or is not worth as much as the unsubsidized price because of prejudice and bigotry over partisanship or brand loyalty, etc.

If Brand had grabbed a gold chain from around a guys neck with a big gold medallion on it, and thrown it out the window, and the item cost over a thousand dollars, it doesn't matter if we think it was gaudy or ugly or overpriced, unless the item is a wrist watch, say, and the complainant is claiming it cost a thousand bucks and it really only costs a hundred, and he just got ripped off buying it because he's an idiot who doesn't know how to comparison shop... that's another thing altogether.

The culture of sticking cameras in people's faces we've devolved into is annoying and disgusting, but at the end of the day, someone pointing a device that records the patterns of photons bouncing off a person, or being emitted by a person, IN PUBLIC is not different really, from looking at someone in public, so unless the camera or camera-bearing device had been placed somewhere we would not think it's okay for someone to position his eyeballs, (i.e., bending over to get a view up a girl's skirt, for example) the response of grabbing and throwing it is not appropriate.

If the camera wielding person HAD physically interfered with Brand's person, harassed him, etc., then the appropriate response would be to respond to the person, not to take his personal (or professional) property and chuck it out the window. He maybe might should have done what Penn did, and respond proportionally to the individual, at least I would have thought it was funny.

So in any case, if it's a crime of whatever variety, fine. Book 'im, boys.

Phonicide in public interest! (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#39394473)

Obviously, stopping a paparazzi is in public interest. Freeing somebody from an iPhone clearly is too. So IMO, this should result in a public commendation, and if needed in a psych-eval for the former iPhone owner to determine whether there is any residual damage that could mandate putting them into a closed psychiatric facility to protect the public.

Where do you draw the line? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 2 years ago | (#39394501)

The problem with this suggestion of a felony conviction over questionable MSRP pricing structures is where do you draw the line? What happens next month when someone snatches a Coach purse, or some other obscenely overpriced piece of shit that we Americans seem to love to waste money on?

Start questioning one overpriced product, and it tends to lead you down a very dark path that NO retailer or manufacturer wants people screwing with.

Theft + force = robbery. (2)

mbstone (457308) | about 2 years ago | (#39394511)

Stealing an item of personal property is larceny. Add the use of force or fear and it's robbery. Robbery is always a felony because of the inherent risk that someone could be injured or killed. That's why Jerry Dewayne Williams is serving 25-to-life for stealing a slice of pizza. [latimes.com]

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39394527)

Give him the chair. The world won't mourn.

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