Tue, Sep 20, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Lawyer warns over legal consequences of grabbing purses

By Wu Cheng-feng and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A lawyer warned of the legal consequences of withholding another person’s possessions over an argument, citing a case in which a man was sentenced after grabbing his girlfriend’s purse.

Lawyer Lee Ching-feng (李慶峰) said that withholding a person’s possessions to force them into discussion is punishable as an act of coercion.

A Keelung District Court judge sentenced a 51-year-old man surnamed Wu (吳) to 30 days detention and a NT$30,000 fine for grabbing his girlfriend’s purse as she attempted to leave in a taxi following an argument, Lee said.

The ruling can be appealed.

Although the woman, surnamed Chang (張), did not press charges, the cab driver called the police, Lee said, adding that Wu’s arrest prompted the court case.

Police said that Wu, a retired soldier, is known to them for his outbursts while drunk.

Police said that Wu once threw boiling water at an officer responding to a report of a domestic disturbance.

Chang, who is not employed and is financially dependent on Wu, said that during an argument about money on Feb. 3 last year she became concerned that Wu might hit her and left his apartment to take a taxi home to Taipei, police said.

Wu chased her, got in taxi and grabbed her bag in an attempt to force her into a discussion, they said.

After Chang asked the driver, surnamed Chen (陳), to call the police, Wu left with her bag, which officers later retrieved from Wu’s home, police said.

Police submitted a case against Wu to the Keelung District Prosecutors’ Office.

Chang visited Wu at home a few days later and said that she did not want to press charges, but the prosecutors’ office said that the case involved an indictable offense and there was no way to withdraw the lawsuit.

Wu pleaded not guilty.

The judge said in the ruling that Wu had intended to find out why Chang was leaving his home and that he had no criminal intent.

The judge said Chang’s request for police involvement along with marks on Chang’s body from a struggle discovered by an officer surnamed He (何) were sufficient evidence that Chang did not want to return to Wu’s home directly after the incident.

Wu’s attempt to coerce Chang to go back with him therefore clearly indicates a criminal act, the judge said.

Wu’s actions constituted a violent and coercive act, as well as a hindrance of Chang’s freedom to exercise her rights, Lee said, adding that Wu’s actions met the requirements to be punished as an indictable offense.

The lawyer said that if it were found that Wu wanted to expropriate Chang’s bag, then he would also have been charged with theft.

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