Friday, May 8, 2009

Lost: There's a Storm Coming

Lost: Follow the Leader
(aired May 6, 2009)

Facts: An imminent "incident" is about occur on a certain Island. As a small group is trying to flee to safety, they gather up all supplies they can carry. One person, Hurley, secretly takes extra food rations to increase the chances he and his compatriots will survive the "incident." He heads off to meet up with the others. On his way, he meets Smokey and must be judged for taking the extra food.

Law:A larceny is the taking of another person's property with the intent to permanently deprive the person of the property.

Issue: Does the "incident" excuse Hurley's theft?

Analysis: Possibly. It's clear that Hurley committed a larceny because he took the food that did not belong to him with the intent to permanently deprive its rightful owner of it. But the defense of necessity may excuse his action.

Necessity excuses some criminal conduct if there is an imminent danger and the harm from the conduct would be less than the harm from the imminent danger. Hurley would have to show that he stole the food to help his friends survive the impending disaster. I think he can do that but at the same time his taking of food from others could then cause an equal harm (i.e., starvation) to the rightful owners of the food. So for Hurley's sake, I hope Smokey is being lenient that day.

Bonus: A good example of this defense is Jean Valjean's incarceration for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Arguably, the starvation is a less harm than the property theft to the bread maker. Of course then we wouldn't have had fun songs to sing over a dreary musical.

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