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Theft from Person, § 943.20(3)(e) – Element of “From the Person” – Property Taken from Person’s Wheelchair

State v. Sylvester Hughes, 218 Wis. 2d 538, 582 N.W.2d 49 (Ct. App. 1998)
For Hughes: Michael H. Kopp

Issue/Holding:

Accordingly, precisely because persons who use wheelchairs, and those who do not, deserve equal treatment and protection under the laws prohibiting theft,9 we conclude that theft “from the person” encompasses the taking of property from the wheelchair of one sitting in the wheelchair at the time of the taking.10


10 In this case, although we refrain from embracing either a narrow or broad standard that would necessarily apply to other factual situations, we do not refrain from acknowledging two important implications that logically and ineluctably flow from our holding: (1) “wheelchair,” as we have used the term in this decision, encompasses functional equivalents, including canes, crutches, walkers, motorized carts and other apparatuses serving the same purpose; and (2) “sitting in the wheelchair,” as we have used the phrase in this decision, encompasses the times and locations involved in getting into or out of, or taking hold of or releasing, a “wheelchair” or its functional equivalent.

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