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Can you sue someone for stealing a slice of pizza?

(Origin of question... a simple tease that someone took a little too seriously, and now I'm curious.)

2 Answers 2

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If it’s your pizza, yes

The civil equivalent of theft is the tort of conversion, “consisting of "taking with the intent of exercising over the chattel an ownership inconsistent with the real owner's right of possession". In England & Wales, it is a tort of strict liability.”

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  • 2
    Legally yes, but the judge will NOT be impressed with you wasting his time over a slide of pizza, if it even gets to that stage.
    – Nelson
    Nov 30, 2021 at 7:18
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    The judge is likely to be critical of both parties for not settling but you do have a right to your day in court.
    – Dale M
    Nov 30, 2021 at 8:34
  • The tort of conversion is also available in almost every other county in the common law legal tradition. Some jurisdictions like Colorado also have a separate statutory offense of "civil theft" with more remedies associated with it.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 2, 2021 at 22:45
  • @ohwilleke are they strict liability?
    – Dale M
    Dec 3, 2021 at 19:29
  • @DaleM It varies by jurisdiction in conversion cases. Some are intentional torts, some are strict liability. In practice, in this fact pattern, the difference is immaterial.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 3, 2021 at 20:00
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Yes, even if it is not your pizza

According to the Brazilian Penal Code, if the person has the initial intention of stealing that slice of pizza, it is classified as theft under article 155 and there is no minimal threshold for value - proven by multiple cases of people being convicted and incarcerated for stealing things of insignificant value (like 10 BRL, which is less than 2 USD today)

There is a lot of discussion going on about establishing a minimum value for theft, but nothing concrete has come out of it as of yet

Another 2 possibilities that are rarely enforced but are still present in the penal code are under misappropriation

Furthermore, if someone ate a piece of pizza that didn't belong to them initially even if they had legitimate access to it (e.g. someone asked them to keep an eye on the pizza while they went to the toilet) they can be charged with misappropriation under article 168.

If they found a pizza or were mistakenly given an extra slice of pizza, article 169 gets you covered for "misappropriation of another person's property through error, happenstance or natural events".

Despite the popular saying, finders are NOT keepers!

Not that anyone would actually bother with prosecuting that and the police will probably laugh in your face

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