Utah Court of Appeals reverses shoplifting case, orders man to pay sale price for stolen headphones

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Court of Appeals said a man convicted of theft should only have to pay a sale price in restitution.

In an unusual ruling issued over the weekend, a three-judge panel reversed the amount of restitution that Bashar Sabbagh had to pay for his crime. Sabbagh was convicted of taking four sets of headphones valued at $299 each, but put on sale by Weber State University’s book store for $175.

Prosecutors demanded that Sabbagh pay $1,999 in restitution, valuing the headphones at $299 each.

“Sabbagh, on the other hand, pointed out that the fair market value of the headphones should be the price at which they had been offered for sale, and accordingly argued that the proper restitution amount should be $700 ($175 x 4). The district court agreed with the State, and ordered Sabbagh to pay $1,199.76 in restitution,” Judge Ryan Harris wrote.

But in their ruling, the Utah Court of Appeals sided with Sabbagh and reversed his restitution amount. The Court found that most stores typically still offer sale prices higher than wholesale.

“Sabbagh, on the other hand, argues that this situation is materially different from the typical situation, and that in this case the Store’s pecuniary damage should be measured by the price at which the Store was actually offering the headphones for sale on the day of the theft. We find Sabbagh’s position more persuasive, and we disagree with the State’s position…,” the court ruled.

The Utah Court of Appeals vacated the restitution order and remanded the case for the lower amount.

Read the Court’s ruling here:

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