On June 19, 2016 Mr. Friedman won an incredibly rare Common Law Motion to Dismiss in Yuba County.
Client had pumped water from the Yuba River into a water tank in the back of his truck. Client’s rural home, with a residential well, had been victimized by a recent wildfire. He needed the river water for domestic purposes as his home’s well had been damaged.
The Yuba County District Attorney’s Office charged the client with two counts of theft, saying that he had stolen the water out of the river.
The crime of “theft” applies when a person takes “personal property” that belongs to another. Mr. Friedman quickly realized that water in a natural body cannot reasonably be considered “personal property.” It is no more “property” than the air we breathe or the sunlight we feel.
Mr. Friedman conducted extensive research into the overlap between Water Law and Criminal Law, and provided authority to show that the State’s natural resources are not subject to the protections under criminal theft statutes.
Essentially, Mr. Friedman argued that the District Attorney lacked jurisdiction to prosecute client. Over the government’s strong objections, Yuba County Superior Court Judge Buckley agreed with Mr. Friedman’s position and ruled that there was no legal basis for the State’s prosecution of client to continue. Case dismissed!