By Ken Lewis

Man Steals $200K in Seafood: A Case for the Necessity Defense?

According to local Florida news reports, Alain Marti-Rosell was recently arrested for stealing a semi-truck containing over $200,000 worth of seafood and meat. The 39-year-old man now faces multiple felony charges for the alleged theft. However, there are still many unanswered questions in this peculiar case that could warrant consideration of the necessity defense by the defendant’s counsel.

Marion contu man steals $200K worth of seafood

The necessity defense asserts that criminal conduct was justified because it was necessary to avoid a greater harm. In this case, we do not yet know Marti-Rosell’s motivations or circumstances. Was he acting simply out of greed or desperation? The large value of seafood and meat could indicate an intent to sell for profit. However, the facts that Marti-Rosell has no known ties to the area, does not reside locally, and fled on foot after abandoning the vehicle could suggest he may have been homeless and starving. If his intent was to steal the food solely for personal consumption out of necessity, this may establish the elements required for the necessity defense.

To assert necessity, the defendant must prove that 1) they faced an immediate threat of serious harm, 2) had no reasonable legal alternatives to remedy the harm, 3) the harm caused by the criminal act was less severe than the harm avoided, and 4) there was no fault of the defendant in creating the situation. In this case, starvation and lack of access to food sources could constitute a threat of harm that justified theft if no other reasonable options were available. The theft of property, while a felony, may have been less severe than loss of life from starvation. However, the defendant’s role in creating his circumstances would need to be considered.

While more facts are needed, if Marti-Rosell was acting out of necessity due to starvation and lack of reasonable legal options for obtaining food, the necessity defense may be applicable to his criminal charges. The case raises an important discussion around how we can prevent those in need from resorting to theft and ensure humane access to basic life necessities like food. Unless and until more details emerge, we cannot rule out necessity as a potential defense and there are many complex issues yet to be explored.  At Smith & Eulo we think outside the box and explore every defense that might be applicable in a criminal case.

Don’t hesitate to call our firm at 352-WIN-4YOU if you or a family member find yourself arrested for a crime, we offer free consultations and payment plans.