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Distinguishing between lost and mislaid property

It is not uncommon for people to come across personal items in Yuma that were obviously lost by their owners. One might find a wallet on a park bench, or a cell phone left on a table at restaurant. One's first impulse may be to find the owner, yet that can often be difficult if he or she did not actually witness the owner leaving it there. At that point, some might say that the proverbial "finders keepers" rule comes into play. Yet following such an axiom may end up leaving one having to deal with legal troubles (and even the potential threat of deportation, depending on the seriousness of the alleged offense). 

According to the Cornell University Law School, the law recognizes two different types of lost property: actual lost property and mislaid property. Lost property are those items that the owner likely left unintentionally. In the aforementioned examples, the wallet left on the park bench might be lost property, given that there likely was no apparent reason why one would have his or her wallet out in such a setting. Mislaid property, on the other hand, is an item that a owner likely was using but then forgot. Again, looking at the previous examples given, one might understand why another would have their cell phone out in a restaurant, and also understand how easily he or she could have forgotten it. 

Section 13-1802(4) of Arizona's state laws classifies keeping both lost or mislaid property as theft if reasonable attempts are not made to find its owners. The generally accepted methods of those attempts, however, may differ. With lost property, one ie expected to try to find the owners on his or her own. Mislaid property should be turned over to the owner of the establishment it was found in. 

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