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Caitlin, celebrating a recent promotion at work, took her best friends out for a delicious meal at the Top of the Bean Restaurant.
Unfortunately, it is a cash only establishment, and Caitlin has only thirty cents. Her friends have already left to catch the last train home. Caitlin’s boyfriend, a lawyer at a prominent law firm in downtown Boston, who hasn’t used cash for the last ten years, tells her that it’s not a crime to accept services, such as a meal, without paying for them. Caitlin knows that her boyfriend is a smart and honest guy, and so the two leave without paying for the meal.
Unbeknownst to either Caitlin or her boyfriend, that very morning, the Massachusetts legislature amended its criminal statutes to expand their definitions of property to include services and other intangibles such as gas and electrical power. As is the usual practice, this amendment was set to be made available to the public the next morning in all of the local newspapers and television news programs.
The manager of the restaurant calls the police, who arrive and place Caitlin under arrest for larceny.
You are a criminal defense attorney that comes highly recommended by Caitlin’s boyfriend. Advise Caitlin of the charge against her, her possible defenses, if any, and the probable result.
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First, consider when the change in law was enacted by the legislature in this case. Next, consider what Caitlin believed the law was when she left without paying for her meal.