Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Georgia Supreme Court to decide if lawn mower is motor vehicle

Attention all LRW profs - this case has got "good hypo material" written all over it.  After all, a lawn mower, like a car, has an engine, four wheels, brakes and a throttle. 

The question is being raised in the context of an appeal by a criminal defendant who was convicted of felony motor vehicle theft for stealing a riding mower from Home Depot. 

'The term 'motor vehicle' is not crystal,' [the defendant's attorney] told the judges. 'There is no universal or definitive meaning for motor vehicle.'

Instead, he said state law defines a vehicle as a device which can transport people or property on a highway. Since the riding lawnmower was never driven on a road during the theft, it shouldn't be considered a vehicle, he argued.

Prosecutors counter that the vague vehicle definition cuts both ways.

Georgia law also defines a motor vehicle as a 'self-propelled' device -- and there's no doubt that the riding lawn mower is self-propelled, said Scott Helton, an assistant district attorney.

He said defense attorneys are pushing an unrealistic definition of what a vehicle is.

After all, a NASCAR race car isn't designed to roam city streets or transport people and property from one place to another. But if the car was stolen, Helton said, there's little doubt the suspect would be charged with stealing a motor vehicle.

I just knew a NASCAR reference would somehow wind up in this case.

Hat tip to Law.com

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl) 

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