Imagine the following scenario: while dining at a restaurant in Richmond, one notices a laptop bag has been left under his or her table. He or she takes it upon leaving, with every intention of searching its contents to discover who the owner is. However, hours later, law enforcement authorities show up at his or her door accusing him or her of theft, saying that restaurant patrons saw him or her leave with the bag.
Such a situation is not all that uncommon and can indeed land one in hot water with the law if he or she does not understand the concept of mislaid property. Most might assume that lost property is anything left behind by its owner. Mislaid property, however, is somewhat different. According to the Cornell Law School, lost property is that which is unintentionally left behind by its owner, while mislaid property is anything that its owner may have taken out and then forgotten. In the aforementioned example, the laptop bag would be considered lost if it fell out of its owner’s car in a parking lot. If the owner took it out to use his or her computer during a lunch meeting and then later forgot it, it is then determined to be mislaid.
Per Section 514.050 of Kentucky’s Revised Statutes, one may be considered guilty of theft if he or she knowingly comes into control of mislaid property (in such cases, his or her best course of action would be to turn it over to the owner of the property on which it was found). However, even if one does take possession of mislaid property, it must be proven that he or she made no attempt to return it to its owner in order to be convicted of theft.