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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Court Convicts Dead Man of Stealing Electricity

Kevin Underhill at Lowering the Bar comments on an unusual case where a Greek court convicted a defendant in absentia for stealing electricity. Despite the defense attorney's request that the trial be continued pending the provision of a death certificate, the court refused.

The court imposed a suspended sentence of six months in jail. As Underhill notes, that jail term wouldn't be imposed unless the defendant violated the law in some other way, so the defendant is "effectively off the hook."

The case raises several interesting questions. For instance, what if the charge were more severe, and this case took place in China? Would a Chinese court impose a suspended death sentence on a deceased defendant? And if a defendant were to fail to report to prison (due to his or her being dead) would the court then impose the suspended death sentence? If so, how?

Moreover, this case touches on a particular interest of mine regarding the law governing the dead and undead. As I have argued in both prior posts and published scholarship, criminal law (unlike tax law) is a particularly effective means of combating the undead in the eventual zombie apocalypse. 

Even if defendants are dead, courts in Greece and Russia will still move forward with prosecution. If When the zombie apocalypse occurs, one can only hope that more courts will follow this trend so that the undead may be effectively tried and prosecuted for the numerous crimes they will inevitably commit.

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