The act of Illegal impoundment of property is one of the common acts, and if a person who lacks understanding of the law has the desire to keep that property for himself, it may result in unfortunate criminal liability. Pursuant to Article 176 of the Criminal Code 2015 (the Criminal Code), the elements constituting the crime of illegal impoundment of property include:
- Firstly, the subject of the crime: a person who has full penal capacity and is full 16 years of age or older (persons from full 14 years old to under 16 years old are not criminally responsible for this crime because Article 176 is not part of Clause 2, Article 12 of the Criminal Code);
- Secondly, the object of the crime: infringing upon the property relationship protected by law;
- Thirdly, objective behaviour: deliberately failing to return to the owner, the lawful manager or not handing over to the responsible agency property valued at VND 10,000,000 or more, relics, antiques or objects of historical or cultural value that are mistakenly delivered or found or captured by themselves, after the owner, lawful manager or responsible agency requests to receive such property in accordance to the provisions of law of Vietnam;
- Fourthly, the subjective side: intentional error: the offender foresees that the illegal possession of the property is illegal, and foresees that the property owner will not be able to exercise the property ownership rights without returning the property, the offender intends to appropriate the owner's property, so he does not return it when demanded.
Therefore, when a person, because of his temporary greed, commits an act that fully meets the above-mentioned criminal elements, he will be criminally responsible for the crime of illegal possession of the property.
Typically, at the judgment 242/2018/HS-ST dated October 16, 2018 by the People's Court of Cam Ranh City - Khanh Hoa, the first-instance hearing of the case was:
"On April 10, 2018, Ms. Chu Thi Ngoc H went to a shop which is located at number 61 TBT, PT ward, city Z, owned by Dang Thi Kim L to buy clothes. A while after Ms. H left, she discovered that she had left her mobile phone on the store's clothes shelf, so Ms. H called the phone number of the iPhone 7 Plus -128 GB, then Dang Thi Kim L discovered the phone and turned off the power. At this time, Ms. H returned to the store and asked L to return the phone, but L refused, saying she didn't know, so Ms. H went into the store to search and discover currently has an Iphone 7 Plus -128 of Ms. H that L is hiding.
The court decided to: Impose Defendant Dang Thi Kim L a fine of 15,000,000 VND (Fifteen million VND) for the crime of: "Illegal impoundment of property" to supplement the State fund".
Considering the circumstances of the case and the law provisions on the crime of illegal possession of the property, the Court's decision is completely appropriate, because:
- Firstly, Ms. L, born in 1985, is a person with full criminal capacity and age for criminal responsibility;
- Secondly, the object of the crime: Ms. L's behavior infringed upon Ms. H's own relationship with Ms. H's Iphone 7 Plus -128 GB, which is protected by law;
- Thirdly, Ms. L got a phone worth 16,380,000 VND (greater than 10 million VND according to Article 176 of the CriminalCode), which Ms. H left at the store and when Ms. H returned to the store to ask to receive it back, Ms. L denied that she did not see it and did not return it to Ms. H. Although Ms. L saw it and even hid the phone in a basket inside her personal area;
- Fourthly, Ms. L made an intentional mistake when she did not return the phone.
Therefore, people need to be wise when making a decision, not for the immediate benefit, for a property that does not belong to them, to avoid being entangled in the criminal law, to ensure their own interests.