Woman Facing Jury Trial Over $2 Pumpkin She Accidentally Stole, Offered To Pay For

UPDATE: Turns out the pumpkin thief wasn’t working alone — she had been on a date with her man when they committed the offense, totaling $10 worth of purloined pumpkins. And both were found guilty in their case today.

The two college students claimed they were under the impression that a free pumpking was part of the price of admission to the patch. Their sentence includes 40 hours of community service and the two have to pay their court fee of $73, says KOAT News.


Jury duty is already a groan-worthy occasion, but imagine being called in to sit in judgment over the theft of a $2 pumpkin. That’s what is happening in the case of a 23-year-old woman in Albuquerque who accidentally left a pumpkin patch without paying for a small gourd.

Back in October 2011, local KOAT News says the woman spent $75 on funnel cakes and other food at a pumpkin patch, went on hay rides and generally had fun. As she was leaving, she picked up a small pumpkin and was approached by police, explains her sister.

“(She) said, ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Can I pay for them?’ (They said), ‘Nope,’ and she was handcuffed immediately — end of story, no ifs or buts,” said the sister.

When she was given an order to appear in court and complied, she figured the charges would be dropped. Not so much — she refused to plead guilty and do probation, and now the case is one for a jury.

Tax payers’ dollars at work!

Woman Accused Of Stealing $2 Pumpkin Faces Trial [KOAT News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. clippy2.0 says:

    The details in the linked article are just as lacking. I mean, I don’t want to blame the OP, because the cops being involved is retarded, but what exactly was the chain of events? She was leaving, swiped a gourd thinking no one would notice, and then made a huge deal? Was she being a nuisance the whole time, and the cops were called in before hand? Was there an issue of thefts in the area and police were on hand to help counter it? Zero details makes having an opinion here difficult. I hate the police as much as the next person, but I really doubt the details were “She picked up a pumpkin and immediately police arrested her for theft”

    • jrwn says:

      Here in Omaha, we have a pumpkin patch similar to this. They are open for about 2 months, and because it’s so busy, there are a couple police there all the time.

      • zippy says:

        Around here, a free small pumpkin is part of the admission price of all the patches I’ve been to. They do it because small pumpkins aren’t very saleable, people want bigger pumpkins. But what gave the pumpkin thief the idea that the pumpkin should be free at this patch?

    • tundey says:

      Still, a jury trial over a $2 theft? By a person with no criminal history?

      • bender123 says:

        This happened to me in college…I was at a convenience store after bar time to get a coffee and bumped into some friends. 30 minutes later (talking) I left, forgetting I had drank my coffee (not a frufru coffee…a $.80 coffee) and thus, forgot to pay. A security guy came out and the police were called. I told them I forgot I even got one and was told, no exceptions. $89 cup coffee after I had to pay my fine.

        I admitted it was my mistake, but it didnt matter.

        • sagodjur says:

          Careful. There are a bunch of OP-blamers around here that seem to assume that anyone who claims to have forgotten to pay for something is just a thief who got caught and used that as their excuse. They’re probably all self-righteous loss prevention officers at some retail big box store…

          They’ll also argue a no-tolerance enforcement of the law. “Well you technically did steal it! Go straight to jail and pay $200! Crime must be punished!”

          • bender123 says:

            I admit I “stole” it. The issue is that our black and white society is too braindead to use reason and base enforcement on intent.

            • Verdant Pine Trees says:

              Agreed, at least if we’re going to do this kind of smack-smack, it’s either black or white, type of reaction, we ought to make it simple and easy for taxpayers and “scofflaws” alike. If you mess up, and admit you made a mistake, and the cost was under $5, the first time, you just get a note on your record. If it’s over $5, or it’s not your first offense, then you automatically get to do 5 hours community service – something that can be completed on a weekend.

              More than once I have returned something I found I had not paid for, and then paid for it on the spot. And I still don’t understand this “thief! thief” blaming that’s so popular here.

          • Jawaka says:

            I understand that people make mistakes but at the same most criminals are somewhat unlikely to admit their crime. They all have some excuse of extraordinary circumstance that led to them not paying for the item that they stole.

            Its not up to a cop to determine intent, its up to a judge or jury.

            • sagodjur says:

              I’m not talking about a cop or even a judge or jury making the decision that someone is guilty. I’m saying it is judgmental and self-righteous for commenters to automatically pass judgement on OP’s when they’ll never have the full story.

      • Jawaka says:

        The only reason that there’s a jury trial is because the judge offered her a deal which would have only resulted in probation BUT SHE REFUSED and decided to fight it in court. And you know what, she’ll likely lose in court because they’ll instruct the jury to not consider the value of the item that she stole, only whether she’s in fact guilty of stealing something or not.

        • history_theatrestudent says:

          Only take one out of the twelve (or 6 depending on the jury size) to change things. Plus no way to tell what was in the jurors’ minds during deliberation. They could just easily claim the state failed to prove she “willful[ly]” converted ownership without paying.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      Yeah, I’m reminded of this case: https://consumerist.com/2008/04/man-jailed-after-forgetting-case-of-soda-underneath-shopping-cart.html

      Man “forgot” to pay for a $3-4 case of soda after buying a lot of groceries. Gets nailed. Creates huge stink. Bloggers and the news go nuts over the “police state”. Video released showing him knowingly putting soda under cart after checking out. Silence.

    • ZachPA says:

      New Mexico state statute regarding Shoplifting requires “willful” intent to convert (ownership from the retailer to the consumer) without paying.

      In this case, the OP did not pay and did indeed convert merchandise. Whether she intended to, or with malice aforethought, or willfully took possession of merchandise without paying is a matter of fact for a jury to determine.

      It seems silly that the retailer wants to press charges, but it’s his right under the law. Perhaps he had a problem with theft, and he developed a no-tolerance policy so as to send a message to would-be thieves. It seems silly that the state’s attorney, who complains of a lack of staff and inability to prosecute DUI defendants, would choose to spend time and resources bringing a petty misdemeanor case to trial, but it is his prosecutorial discretion as to which cases he wants to prosecute and which cases he wants to drop. Perhaps he believes dropping this case would send a message to all would-be thieves that all they need to do to beat a theft rap is to demand a jury trial.

      What does not seem silly, though, is that tax payers are the ones footing the bill for all of this. The court exists in order to make sure that people who are rightly and wrongly accused of crimes get justice. What if this happened to you? What if you really did forget to pay for that pumpkin? You obviously didn’t have intent, and you are not guilty of a crime under the law, so wouldn’t you fight the accusation and demand a jury trial?

      Some people may be tempted to just plead guilty and do the community service, probation and pay the small fine, but a guilty plea to this charge is an admission of guilt. A guilty plea or finding by a jury means that the OP has a criminal record that is exposed during any background check. Even a petty misdemeanor would disqualify her from some careers and employers. Perhaps she is considering a career as a nurse, doctor, lawyer or government worker.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    In before someone accuses her of purposefully stealing the pumpkin.

    • Jawaka says:

      On purpose, by accident, it doesn’t really matter. Theft is theft.

      • Twonkey says:

        As noted in an earlier post; “New Mexico state statute regarding Shoplifting requires “willful” intent to convert (ownership from the retailer to the consumer) without paying. “

        So yeah, it actually completely matters whether or not she accidentally took it. Well, in theory anyway. I’m guessing that either the jury didn’t care, or they just couldn’t prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the theft really was an oversight.

      • Velvet Jones says:

        The word theft actually implies intent to steal. If there was no intent then no theft. Give you a perfect example. A few years ago I bought a pair of guitar strings from Best Buy and when I got home I found that it was actually two packages that were stuck together so tightly that I had to pry them apart with a screw driver(they in a ridged packaging and were locked together). I didn’t even notice there were two of them until I went to open the package. Would that classify as shoplifting? I think you would be hard pressed to find a DA that would say it does.

    • zandar says:

      didn’t make it, sorry.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      I would like to go there, pay for a pumpkin, and then throw it at the owners head. Seriously, this guy sounds like a major league a**hole. I hope someone burns down his pumpkin patch.

  3. Reading Rainbow says:

    I actually don’t understand this. I thought (perhaps an urban legend) there was a minimum value that something had to be for formal charges to be filed. And that the minimum value was at least $10 (I thought it was $20)

    • CTrees says:

      If that was true, stealing candy bars at the checkout line would be perfectly fine.

      It might not generally be WORTH IT to file formal charges, but in general it will darned well be illegal

      • Reading Rainbow says:

        Well right that’s the point. The cost of the item doesn’t affect the legality of taking it, but does affect the impact to the store, person, and society. Although still wrong, stealing a few pennies doesn’t impact a store as much as a few thousand dollars.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      State laws are all different regardless. I don’t know why people think “theft” in one state is exactly the same law as “theft” in another.

    • jeni1122 says:

      My nephew (12 year old) thought it would be “cool” to steel around 2 dollars worth of candy last weekend. He was caught and the police were called. He is now charged with petty theft and accessory to petty theft because his friend also stole some candy.

      My mom (who has custody of him) offered to pay for everything because nothing was consumed, but the store has a no tolerance policy.

      Honestly, I am glad that the cops were called. This type of behavior is inexcusable. Hopefully this will scare him enough to where he will not steel again.

    • zandar says:

      i say let her rot in debtor’s prison for 20 years. that’ll teach her not to offend society with her wanton anarchy.

    • FredKlein says:

      “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. “
      -7th Amendment to the US Constitution

  4. caradrake says:

    While I don’t know if it is really worth a trial and jury – if she is allowed to pay and go on her way, what is to stop any shoplifters from using the “whoops! I forgot about it” excuse, and offering to pay for it, rather than getting prosecuted? In this scenario, the shoplifter would never lose – they’d either get the goods, or have to pay for them, but wouldn’t go to jail/get a criminal record.

    But I’m also not for calling the cops over an item that cost $2. It’s a waste of time and money all around. Sure, you need to make an example, but where is the line between being compassionate, and acknowledging that sometimes people forget, and running a business? Can you be compassionate and still look out for your business?

    • loggg says:

      Demand that she pay a penalty for the mistake. Say, double or triple the price, or maybe a flat rate of $10 or some combination. Double or $10, whichever is more. Be good if the whole thing could be handled immediately, no need to drag in a judge, but there’s always the problem of trumped up charges and corrupt cops. So issue something similar to a speeding ticket or a violation for letting her grass get too high or some such, so there’s a paper trail, but don’t convict or try her for anything, and allow her to pay online or by mail. A year after she pays, forget the whole thing and shred the papers. That should be a reasonable deterrent to stop people deliberately shoplifting and then pulling out the “honest mistake” line, and can also serve to help identify kleptomaniacs so they can be helped. Last thing we need is to shove more mental patients into our seriously overcrowded jails.

      What’s crazier is the state spending thousands of times the price of that pumpkin to assemble a jury and hold a trial. If I was selected for jury duty for something like this, I’d have some harsh words for the officials responsible. I’d demand that they work out procedures for handling such matters that don’t waste our money that they’re always complaining is short.

      The Consumerist ought to beat up governments more for poor service and outrageous processes and behaviors. For instance, red light cameras, parking meters, speed traps and so on are more about revenue generation than public service. I recall a case of some kindly old lady being arrested for adding minutes to parking meters for total strangers.

      • kc2idf says:

        I’m with you. Unfortunately, as a juror, you don’t get to do anything in the end but vote for conviction or acquittal. You can make all kinds of noise after the trial, but the trial won’t function as a podium.

        Still, I’d tell anyone who would listen.

      • I Love Christmas says:

        Guys, it was a bench trial. You’re not going to get a trial by jury for a misdemeanor. The right to trial by jury only kicks in when there is a possibility of jail time.

  5. Cat says:

    Yes, it is a bit much, but I’ll bet she REALLY was probably going to leave with it as her entitlement for having spent so much on funnel cakes and such.

    Wait, $75 on funnel cakes and food at a pumpkin patch? THAT’S the real consumer story right there.

    • dolemite says:

      That’s my thought too. “Well, I spent a lot of money here, they won’t miss a small pumpkin.” How do you mistakenly steal something like that? It’s not like a pack of gum you stuck in your pocket. So on her way out, she decided that after spending all that money, she was due a gift, but police begged to differ.

    • caradrake says:

      It’s not just funnel cakes and food, though. “The woman spent $75 on funnel cakes and other food at a pumpkin patch, went on hay rides and generally had fun.”

      I’m not sure if it was free admission, but that could be $5-$10 right there, another amount for parking, the hay ride is similarly priced…

      I still see it a little odd that she’d spend $75 on one person. I think we usually spend $75-$100 for the four of us to go to a fair/carnival type thing, on entry/food/rides/games/etc. But, that’s also not the point of the story.

  6. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    She had already bought and paid for $75 worth of items then “when Medina was leaving the property, Atencio said her sister picked up a small pumpkin and police approached her. (Medina) said, ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Can I pay for them?’ “

    Why was she picking up a small pumpkin after having paid for everything else? And why wasn’t her response “WTF? I was just heading back in to pay” rather than what she said, which indicates to me that she did not, in fact, intend to pay for it.

  7. shepd says:

    Oh, that music wasn’t free? Damn. How about I just buy the CD instead of going to court, yes?

    I mean, really… You do the crime, you do the time. She admitted to the crime already, so having a jury trial *does* seem pointless. Just give her the penalty already.

    Or is she complaining she is a special snowflake deserving of not paying penalties? This isn’t some sort of immoral law. This is actual real stealing, unlike my example. :)

    • George4478 says:

      >> She admitted to the crime already…Just give her the penalty already

      The court tried that. She pled not guilty; she didn’t like the penalty.

    • gitmo234 says:

      I assume she’s going for jury nullification and I hope she gets it. If I were on the jury i would never give a guilty verdict for this case, based on what I know now, from the article.

      • shepd says:

        What in the story leads you to believe that she wasn’t cognizant of the requirement that you pay for merchandise before leaving? At 23 you should know better. Is it because she apologized? Because she engaged in legitimate transactions earlier in the day? Really, it’s that easy to get away with stealing? You can just apologize when you’re caught? Fuck, all this time I’ve been paying for stuff when I should have just been taking it and apologizing when I screw up and get caught. What a fool I am. Free shit for all (as long as you buy some stuff earlier that day)!

        If I were on the jury I’d convict. If I could, I’d ask for a jail time penalty, too, for wasting my time and money when she should have just plead guilty / no contest, taken her probation and gone home. This is real stealing, and theft’s been immoral since day one. Apologizing gets you the probation sentence instead of jail. It’s a pumpkin. It doesn’t somehow slip into your pocket. You hold it. How the hell do you lose track of that?

      • Jawaka says:

        I’d convict her. In fact, the judge will probably instruct the jury to not consider the value of the item in question, only whether she actually stole it or not. And since she pretty much admitted that she’d taken it without paying for it when she was caught I don’t see how you can decide any other way than to convict.

        • Jawaka says:

          From the update

          “During the sentencing, the judge said the dollar amount didn’t matter in the case, but the fact that the two swiped pumpkins without paying did.”

  8. maxamus2 says:

    Theft is theft. So what if she spent $1,000, what does that matter? I’m sure she figured she was “entitled” to just some small pumpkin, who would care.

    I say make an example out of her. Exactly what is the limit to “acceptable” stealing?

  9. RenegadePlatypus says:

    From linked article: “But, when Medina was leaving the property, Atencio said her sister picked up a small pumpkin and police approached her.”

    Likely she thought it would be a harmless thrill to swipe a pumpkin. Akin to swiping the steak knife from a restaurant. I think it’s funny she got arrested. There’s obviously more to the story.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      Who would steal a steak knife from a restaurant, and why?

      • Bagels says:

        i have stolen quite a few beer glasses from bars (in the past, you can’t prove anything either).

        • zerogspacecow says:

          I can sort of understand that, having an extra beer glass around the house is always handy.

          But steak knives? Are there people at there with drastic shortages of steak knives? I have one set in my kitchen, and rarely are more than two or three knives dirty at any given time.

          I dunno, just seems like an odd thing to steal. There are way more useful things out there that you could be stealing.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            A steak knife is probably more useful than a scratchy hotel towel.

          • axhandler1 says:

            The last time I was in New Orleans, I went out with my friend to a John Besh restaurant, which is considered to be pretty high-end dining. I got something with meat, I forget what, but was having trouble cutting it with the knife at the table. I mentioned it to the server, and she went and got a box with steak knives in it, and gave me one. I asked her why they didn’t just bring steak knives with the meal, and she said it was because people had been swiping them and the good knives cost the restaurant over $100 each. Apparently it’s not that uncommon.

          • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

            Someone I know used to feel obligated to steal something from the table just about everytime she went to a restaurant. I assumed her parents had taught her that restaurants are expensive so you need to get a little extra for your money. Or something.

      • elangomatt says:

        My sister stole a couple of spoons from a steak n shake when she was in high school. They were the kind with an extra long handle for reaching to the bottom of a milkshake glass I think. She thought they were cool so she took them, and didn’t really see anything wrong with it. She didn’t like how our mother reacted though when she found out where the two new spoons came from.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        When I first moved in with my girlfriend, we had this odd assortment of flatware. Our apartment was filled with cast-offs and scavenged furniture, and the kitchen was no different. We had a drawer overflowing with spoons, and only 3 knives. If we went out to eat, we’d take a clean knife or two home with us. While they weren’t specifically steak knives, I have to say I was the sort who would steal knives when I was 19-20. The irony of going out to eat while thinking I was too poor to buy knives isn’t lost upon me.

  10. Jack T Ripper says:

    I’m kind of surprised because in order for something to be a crime there has to be ‘INTENT’. Unless she planned on stealing the pumpkin without paying for it, then there was no crime. She wasn’t charged for stealing the hay stuck in her hair and to her clothing, was she? If it was an honest mistake then they won’t be able to prove intent and I can’t believe it would have ever gotten to trial. What a waste of time…

    • maxamus2 says:

      Jack T Ripper, you have OBVIOUSLY never owned a business or know nothing about the law.

      By your logic, every single thief can just say “oopsie, I forgot to pay, my bad” and there is no crime.

      And the hay is free, no crime there.

      • Jack T Ripper says:

        I do own a business and I do know the law. Unless she put the pumpkin under her coat and the prosecution can prove she was trying to sneak it out of the pumpkin patch, then I don’t know a jury in the world that would convict her. The law isn’t about who is right and who is wrong anyway. It is about who can convince the jury and that is what I’ve been known to do. But your 2 year certificate in Underwater Basket Weaving from the local community college clearly makes you smarter than me, so I bow to your superior intellect.

        • tbax929 says:

          It’s “smarter than I”, not “smarter than me”, Mr. Smarty Pants!

          Of course, I did my first two years of college at a community college, so what do I know?

          • pamelad says:

            “Smarter than I” is incorrect. “Smarter than me” is correct. “Smarter than I am” is also okay. And commas always go inside a closing quotation mark, not outside.

            Back to the topic: I read the KOAT story and there’s not much additional information there. My impression is that the theft was a result of an honest misunderstanding that a free pumpkin was included with admission, but that’s just speculation, of course. It seems silly the case has been escalated to a jury trial, leading me to believe we’re missing some key details.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Intent isn’t some metafactor that requires detailed scrutiny. The simple act of walking away with something you didn’t pay for indicates intent – at least enough to be charged.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      I don’t think that’s accurate.

      Vehicular manslaughter comes to mind. You can accidentally (without intent) kill a pedestrian and still go to jail for a very long time.

      Arson: you can accidentally burn down California by not putting out your cigarette. Again, no intent, but definitely still a crime.

      And, of course, with theft. It’d be pretty easy for every thief in the world to say they didn’t intend to do it. Want a TV? Just put it in your cart and walk out, then if you get caught just say “oops, I forgot to pay! No intent here!”

    • Extended-Warranty says:

      Intent plays a big part, but the person would have to prove they didn’t intend.

      Every criminal claims they didn’t intend to do anything wrong. Quit being stupid.

      • Auron says:

        No, the defendant does not have to prove that she didn’t intend to steal it. The prosecution has to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that she intended to steal it. At least that’s how the court system is sposed to work here in murrica.

    • Extended-Warranty says:

      I hate when I accidentally haul away large gourds without paying.

      And NO, you do not have the right to see my receipt for it.

    • shepd says:

      Intent was proven. You pick up an item and keep it in your hands without putting it down, or you put it in a backpack. At that point your intent was clear that you knew you now had possession of the item rather than the rightful owner. If your intent was rather to discuss with the owner of the item if you may have it, that is to be done before picking it up and leaving the store/area.

      Also, intent isn’t required in many cases, especially for “minor” crimes. Intent need not be proven if your car is caught in a handicapped space. The mere fact is was there is enough.

      (Look up strict and absolute liability for better information–I’m rather certain this type of theft falls under strict liability, which requires the same level of “intent” as a speeding ticket does)

  11. Coffee says:

    If she had just picked up a pumpkin and tried to walk away, I guess I could see some rationale for this, but this is way over the top and a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. For those who haven’t been through the jury selection process, it involves a large number of people (about 50 per trial) taking about half their day and receiving some compensation ($25 in the state of Washington, I believe) for it…so that’s $1,250 right there. The jury is presided over by a bailiff during that time (four hours’ salary), and they have to spend several hours in a court room during the selection process, during which time they’re overseen by a number of public servants (judge, bailiff, prosecuting attorney, guards, etc.). And this is all before it even goes to trial.

    What a waste.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      What a waste.

      Haha yeah, that whole “trial by jury” thing is such a load of crap. So antiquated. Just because it was once one of the cornerstones of the country’s justice system, and indeed one of the founding principals of the Republic, it doesn’t mean anything today.

      • Coffee says:

        Context is important. I’m not saying trial by jury isn’t an important thing, but in this case, yes, it is a waste of resources.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          There is no context in the Constitution or in the laws of the state in question. If you are charged with a crime, you have a right to a jury trial. It doesn’t say “unless the theft is small” or “unless it’s too much trouble” or “unless it’s too expensive”.

          That’s the whole basis for the Due Process clause of the 5th Amendment as well as the 6th Amendment.

          • Coffee says:

            Yes, you do have a right to a jury by trial, and I am not challenging this woman’s right. However, the DA’s office has the discretion to determine whether a trial is worth pursuing, and they drop charges all the time when it’s determined that a case is not worth pursuing. That is what I question. The DA decided to go forward with a case knowing that the cost to pursue it exceeded the “crime” by many orders of magnitude. I disagree with the decision because I believe it is wasteful and unnecessary.

            This is an opinion. It is my opinion.

            • TheMansfieldMauler says:

              The DA decided to go forward with a case knowing that the cost to pursue it exceeded the “crime” by many orders of magnitude.

              So, if you were a DA, you would never prosecute a theft under $_____.00

              Please fill in the blank.

              • Coffee says:

                Again, context is important, as is discretion. I would like the DA to use his brain and make a reasonable decision. I don’t think that in this case, the decision was reasonable. That is my opinion, and I expressed it. Why is it so hard for you to accept that?

                • TheMansfieldMauler says:

                  The opinion is fine, I don’t have a problem with you having an opinion or expressing it.

                  However, think what you’re saying is unfathomably unrealistic. If a county DA failed to prosecute small theft cases, he wouldn’t keep his job. He would be considered negligent in his duties. Even if the legal community thought it was OK, people living in that county would not stand for it. Business owners would be going crazy because they would be constantly ripped off as soon as word got out that no one would face prosecution for any small theft.

                  Also, state laws are generally set up so that theft of anything within a specified range is charged at a certain level. Where I live, anything between 1 cent and $50 is a Class C misdemeanor. That means it doesn’t matter what the cost of the specific item is. If it’s a 5 cent piece of gum, it might as well have been a $49.99 video game – they’re prosecuted as the same offense. The fact that the pumpkin wasn’t free puts it at least in the lowest range for that jurisdiction, so it might as well have been a $49.99 pumpkin (for example).

                  If you would prosecute a $49.99 offense, you should prosecute a $2 offense. If you wouldn’t prosecute a $49.99 offense, you won’t be the DA for long.

                  • Coffee says:

                    Again, in this case, context is important. I’m not saying that all petty theft should not be prosecuted. The woman spent $75 on other crap while she was there, did other stuff like rides, whatever…who knows how it happened, exactly. That gives me reasonable cause to believe that it was a stupid misunderstanding.

                    One time, I accidentally stole a pack of gum while I was grocery shopping because I was distracted by something and reflexively put it in my jacket pocket. I then proceeded to buy a week’s worth of groceries, and thankfully I wasn’t caught. I would hope that if I were caught after paying for everything else, the store, realizing that I was a customer with no documented history of behavior like that, would laugh it off as a misunderstanding. I would hope that a police officer, if called, would use discretion and tell the store to let me pay for the damned gum. I would hope that a DA, seeing the details of the arrest, would acknowledge that this was a stupid waste of time and money and have it thrown out.

                    That’s just how I feel.

          • pk says:

            …And that’s where common sense should kick in.

      • smartypants503 says:

        Over $2 is the point that you are missing.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          How does that matter? I don’t see any dollar amount limitations in the 6th Amendment.

          If you think a DA is free to drop charges because of the dollar amount, you’re mistaken. Would you want your county DA to never prosecute a theft if the amount wasn’t at least the cost of a trial? How would you like living in a place like that? How long do you think that DA would keep his job?

          • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

            Uh, yeah. I’d like that. In fact, DAs routinely do this, since part of their job is to determine what cases to bring to trial and which ones are not worth prosecuting. It’s pretty much their discretion, and I’d question the judgement of a DA that thought this worth pursuing, doubly so since the DA (in my county, at least) is an elected official meant to represent my interests. Wasting taxpayer money prosecuting a possible theft of a two dollar pumpkin is not representing my interests. Ban her from the premises and be done with it.

            Some cases (first-offense non-violent misdemeanors) are simply not worth pursuing. Should this become a habit for her, then yes, prosecute her. But in my county, I’d rather see the DA tackle more serious offenses. Since I have a voice in deciding whether he gets to keep his job, I believe I am perfectly justified in this opinion.

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      did you read the article that says they’re going to appeal the verdict? instead of doing community service, paying the $73 court cost and teh $10 to the pumpkin patch, they want to appeal and cost more money.

      While I agree that the DA should have probably done something else with this case, the patch purveyor should ahve taken the money, and this is a waste of resources (in the long run, $10 really is a small amount) I also think they should get be able to get a more harsh sentence if the appeal fails.

      • Coffee says:

        Out of curiosity, why do you think they should receive a harsher sentence? It wasn’t their decision to arrest them. It wasn’t their decision to let the case go to trial. Sometimes, people appeal verdicts on principle because they believe that they are innocent of a crime, not because of the punishment’s severity. I know I wouldn’t want that on my record, even if it’s something small, because a background check could prevent me from getting a job and I would have to list it on job applications. Seems reasonable to appeal to me.

        Of course, appealing will just lead to more wasted taxpayer dollars, all because the DA decided to go forward with this in the first place.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          My reason would be that they are appealing the decision and from what the article I read stated, they are guilty. Just take the lumps and chalk it up as an “I’ll never do that again” experience.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          so everyone should be able to commit all the petty crimes they want to and be able to avoid any punishment at all by asking for their constitutional right to a jury trial?
          I don’t get how anyone can place the blame on anyone but the thief in this case.
          None of these costs would have come about if she..
          a. hadn’t stolen anything in the first place.
          b. having been caught red (orange?) handed accepted her plea bargin

          • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

            No; if it becomes a pattern, then you prosecute. But a first-time non-violent offense, especially one that arises from what could easily be explained away as a stupid misunderstanding, should be given a pass. There is still room for human discretion in our judicial system. We’re not MegaCity-1; there is nothing in the Constitution that says every offense must be prosecuted.

    • kc2idf says:

      If I got called for jury duty on a case like this, I would be pissed. It is likely I would take that anger out on someone. At this point, I think it likely it would be taken out on the prosecution just for the “oh for fuck’s sake” factor of this story.

      • who? says:

        I did get called in on a case like this. Jury selection took 1 1/2 days. The trial took an hour. Jury deliberations took 20 minutes.

        We did our duty and reached a verdict, but we were all very confused about why in the hell the guy would even want a jury trial. He was clearly guilty (it was more cut and dried than this case), and his lawyer didn’t even bother to put up a defense.

        It was an utter waste of time for everyone except the defendant, who got his constitutional right to a fair trial, I suppose.

  12. Costner says:

    Question: Do Alzeimer’s patients get to steal whatever they choose because they don’t remember stealing it?

    Why or why not?

    • Cat says:

      Do Alzheimer’s patients get to steal whatever they choose because they don’t remember stealing it?


      Why or why not?

      Why or why not what? Who are you?

    • momtimestwo says:

      Last year, an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home killed another Alzheimer’s patient in the same nursing home with his cane. They decided not to charge him. I believe he died 2 weeks ago. This was in Madison, TN.

    • wellfleet says:

      Because of “disease or mental defect”, people who suffer from Alzheimer’s cannot form the requisite intent to commit such a crime. In other words, they don’t realize what they’re doing is wrong. Further, they cannot assist in their own defense. So yes, technically, they do get to “steal” whatever they want.

      In other news, you’re a buffoon with zero understanding of Alzheimer’s.

      • Costner says:

        Wow… I didn’t think it was possible for both a point as well as a humorous reference to go over someone’s head.

        Learn something new every day I guess.

      • fortymegafonzies says:

        I think the constitution says it’s okay as long as the jury is also made up of Alzheimer’s patients.

  13. Dallas_shopper says:

    I’d find her not guilty just to spite the system for bringing something stupid like that to trial in the first place.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Are jury members allowed to make “for the record” type comments for the stenographer? If so they should detail what a complete waste of time and money it all was…for posterity.

      • Coffee says:

        They’re more than welcome to. If you did say something like that, however, the prosecuting attorney would dismiss you (they get a certain number of dismissals to use).

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          You wouldn’t know the details of the case during jury selection, so you would not get tossed because you would not have spoken up.

          Say that crap during/after the trial and the judge will probably let you think about it overnight.

          • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

            After the verdict has been rendered, the judge is powerless to cite a juror for contempt. A jury has the right to render any verdict they choose, and they cannot be punished for it. I would advise against making such a statement to the court on the off chance of the judge declaring a mistrial, but if you want to say it to the press, after the trial, you can, and there is fuck-all the judge can do about it.

            I’m with Dallas_Shopper on this one. I’d acquit on principle, regardless of the evidence.

  14. MonkeyMonk says:

    How much does it cost the taxpayers to have a juried trial?

    If (when) she loses will she be required to pay for the court costs in addition to the $2 pumpkin she stole?

  15. catskyfire says:

    Keep in mind that it’s likely the pumpkin patch owners that pressed for the charges.

  16. KrispyKrink says:

    Had I been the owner of the patch/farm and after hearing her claim it was indeed an accident and make a good offer to pay, I would have not only told the PD I refuse to press any and all charges but I would also offer that pumpkin for free.

    What’s lacking in the information is whether the owners pressed charges or if the individual officer arrested her on his own personal charges. If he did so on his own, this case will get tossed out in about 15 minutes.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      There is no such thing as “personal charges” by a police officer.

      In most states, if not all states, all offenses are offenses against the state. The cooperation of the victim, although important, is not required. A police officer seeing someone steal something or commit another crime is plenty to warrant a charge and a conviction.

      Unless the property owner testifies that he told her she could take the item before she took it, the police officer witnessed a theft, a crime against the state. Period.

  17. vliam says:

    Cases like this are exactly why jury trials exist. She is lucky that she has that option. In many jurisdictions, they have chosen to exclude this in petty criminal offenses by mangling together the Sixth and Seventh Amendments with a bunch of nonsense they’ve pulled from their ass.

  18. some.nerd says:

    Stupid. That is all.

  19. El_Fez says:

    While I think it’s stupid to bust someone over 2 dollars, theft is theft – period. That’s the way society works, if you steal, you get in trouble when you get busted. I’m sure that plenty of shoplifters went “Oh, I totally forgot about that item in the bottom of the cart” or whatever. She actually may have actually, honestly forgotten about the item – but the law is the law.

  20. Grasshopper says:

    If you follow the links you’ll see she was convicted yesterday and given a deferred sentence and required to perform community service.

  21. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    This is great advertising for McCall’s Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty…NOT. If I lived in ABQ, I’d make sure never to go there again.

    Somebody needs to send Walter White over to visit the owners.

  22. Lyn Torden says:

    Does anyone think we should raise the limit on allowed thievery from 1 dollar to 2 dollars?

  23. msmith6044 says:

    why were the cops hanging around a pumpkin patch in the first place ?

  24. superml says:

    …there were police at a pumpkin patch that just happened to notice her pick up a pumpkin?

  25. PhiTauBill says:

    Apparently, she was convicted. http://www.koat.com/video/30509199/detail.html
    Of course, we would have needed to tune in at 6:00 p.m. for the full story…

  26. rc251 says:

    This story is a little old, they were found guilty yesterday:


  27. ancientone567 says:

    I am wondering why they just didn’t do a public beheading? /s

  28. nybiker says:

    It looks like she had a bench trial and not a trial-by-jury. Her defense was that she thought the price of admission included a pumpkin.

  29. JF says:

    Is anyone else amused by the fact that the name of this pumpkin patch is the same as Sherlock Holmes evil arch nemesis? (Moriarty for those who don’t know it).

    • DemosCat says:

      No, it’s McCall’s Pumpkin Patch. The article was filed from the town of Moriarty. This is clear in the later video link.

  30. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The followup article makes it much easier to blame the OP.

    Now back to the accidently leaving with something. I have twice. Once I was with my wife, we were looking at stuff and she put some towels in her lap. 30 minutes later we decided we weren’t buying anything and left. This was at a warehouse store where they check receipts. We got to the car, saw the towels, went right back in and put them away (she had changed her mind).

    One other time I was asked to hold some small articles of clothing while my wife was at the makeup counter. Later (I’m bored and going nuts) she requests I get something from the car. This time I walk right out absentmindedly holding the item in my hand… in plain site. I realize it when I get the the car and need a hand free to reach for keys. Terrified I hurry and grab what I need and race back into the store (assuming security may be on their way, but if I’m back in it wouldn’t be stolen).

    So it happens. Have I ever actually stolen anything? NO!!! Have I been in a position where it certainly seemed as I had? sure have.

  31. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The followup article makes it much easier to blame the OP.

    Now back to the accidently leaving with something. I have twice. Once I was with my wife, we were looking at stuff and she put some towels in her lap. 30 minutes later we decided we weren’t buying anything and left. This was at a warehouse store where they check receipts. We got to the car, saw the towels, went right back in and put them away (she had changed her mind).

    One other time I was asked to hold some small articles of clothing while my wife was at the makeup counter. Later (I’m bored and going nuts) she requests I get something from the car. This time I walk right out absentmindedly holding the item in my hand… in plain site. I realize it when I get the the car and need a hand free to reach for keys. Terrified I hurry and grab what I need and race back into the store (assuming security may be on their way, but if I’m back in it wouldn’t be stolen).

    So it happens. Have I ever actually stolen anything? NO!!! Have I been in a position where it certainly seemed as I had? sure have.

  32. humphrmi says:

    As usual, more information is at hand than the OS (original story) indicates:

    1. Not a jury trial. It was a bench trial.

    2. Not one pumpkin, but two.

    3. Not $2 pumpkin, but $5 each

    4. Not “Oops, I meant to pay for this”, but “Oops, I thought they were free”.


  33. JohnDeere says:

    dumb cop should lose his job… or refund the taxpayers…

  34. DanKelley98 says:

    There are things in this story that don’t add up…something’s missing here. That said, any business (pumpkin patch or otherwise) that would go to trial over a $2 item won’t get my business….

  35. gargunkle says:


  36. NumberSix says:

    Not an unreasonable assumption. Oma’s Farm near where I live gives you a free, small pumpkin with your admission.

    • Boehme417 says:

      Exactly. There is one I go to every year. Any pumpkin up to $5 is included with admission.

    • dwtomek says:

      There are a significant number of pumpkin patches in the area I live. 100% of them include a single gourd per person as part of the cost of admission. Until I saw this article I had always assumed this to be true of all pumpkin patches. I would have readily made the same mistake this woman made. Thankfully had that been the case, the DA would have been reasonable and pushed me through to a bench trial. After repaying my debt to society I would have learned the valuable lesson that not all pumpkin patches operate with the same policies. Alternatively, the owner of the patch could have realized that other patches do sometimes (more often than not in my experience…as I said, 100% up here) operate with different policies, and a person could have reasonably made this mistake. At that point the owner could have accepted compensation and the issue would be resolved for all parties. I think I like the DA’s option.

  37. somedaysomehow says:

    Seems like no one noticed this: “In court, the defendants told the judge that they were under the impression that the price of admission included a pumpkin.” Though the owner says that was never true, this statement is important. If they can show WHERE they got that idea, they’re clearly innocent. If they can’t, well, they’re pretty clearly lying (it would seem).

  38. IrwinJacobs says:

    There’s a pumpkin patch near here that _does_ include a free pumpkin with admission. It’s not uncommon. And we do what she did: go in, do pumpkin patch stuff (buying food and refreshments periodically the entire time), and then pick up a pumpkin on our way out the gate. (Who wants to carry a pumpkin around all day?)

    Her actions seem entirely plausible and this entire thing is further evidence that too many of our responses as a society are out of control.

  39. Darkneuro says:

    I fully blame her because she didn’t try to pay for it before leaving the pumpkin patch. She tried to walk out with it, and only tried to pay AFTER she had been caught. Should it have been marked better? Probably. Should she have asked someone? Probably. Should this have been worked out without a jury trial? Yes, but… Stupid girl insisted she didn’t want to just plead guilty and get it over with. She *WANTED* a jury trial.
    She got one.

  40. jerros says:

    This whole story is just silly.

    The woman who “stole” the pumpkin was either having a brain dead moment when she thought a Pumpkin at “The Pumpkin Patch” would be free, or she figured she was a young attractive female who could just charm her way out of it. Either way she lacked some serious judgement there.

    As for the cops getting involved, it would’ve been somewhat amusing in a “Scared Straight” type of way but the fact that they went through pressing charges and having a Jury trial is an absolute waste of Tax Payer dollars.

    So there was some judgement lacking on the officers/patch owners end as well.

    It really just sounds to me like the patch owners wanted to make an example out of this incident, more than likely because she’s not the first to steal a pumpkin. And if that’s the case perhaps the 23 yearold woman had a point, they should charge up front for admission to the patch and include the cost of a free pumpkin in with it.

  41. vicissitude says:

    Red State = Law Enforcement # 1 Business = Cops who arrest EVERYONE for anything in order to keep the jails full and the funds flowing in, because their salaries depend on it. That is until at least Red States start hiring corporate mercenaries as law enforcement agents, which probably will have to do double duty as nurse practitioners in your local fast food establishments. Common sense has just completely gone out the window. There are real criminals in Congress and Wall street stealing Billions, if not Trillions of American dollars, yet nary a corrupt butt goes to jail. America is broken…

  42. lemortede says:

    The Farms response to all this.
    I am torn. While I think its a HUGE waste of money to prosecute this, I have to think at what point is it OK to steal.

  43. Clevelandchick says:

    They thought the pumpkins were free, they spent all day at the park and spent plenty of money …they offered to pay for them when they realized they were mistaken but Mr. Grumpy Pumpkin Patch Owner just had charges over freaking pumpkins….it’s beyond all bounds of reason. The judge should have thrown this out. If I lived in that town I’d be po’d at the judge, the cops and the county for wasting my money over $10 worth of pumpkins. It’s just plain stupid.