What happens when a crime can be proven to have happened, but the jurisdiction is unknown?

Hypothetical situation:

Joe Truckdriver is told to load up a shipment of boxes and take it to another city. He loads up the truck and gets on the road, intending in good faith to deliver the goods. He passes through several jurisdictions (e.g. counties, cities, or even countries). At some point midway, he forms a criminal intent to deprive the owner of goods, and immediately stops by the side of the road and abandons some of the shipment. He gets back on the road and arrives at his destination. The recieving clerk notices that some of the shipment is missing, and asks Joe if he knows anything about it. Joe confesses to what he did, but states (honestly) that he doesn’t remember what jurisdiction he left the goods in. The loss-prevention department of the freight company and local police scour the roads, but the goods are never found (e.g. the goods were appropriated by passersby, they were blown away in the wind, eaten or carried away by animals, etc.). No circumstantial physical evidence can be found such as tire tracks or footprints, and no witnesses step forward.

Would Joe get off, since the law can’t figure out where and under what law to try him? E.g. if he drove through a jurisdiction were any theft was a felony, and also passed through a jurisdiction where theft is only a felony if the goods stolen are worth more than $1000 USD, and the missing boxes held goods worth $500 USD, then it is clearly important as a matter of law to determine where the theft occurred. I’m guessing that he can’t be charged with possession of stolen property in the ending jurisdiction (where he confessed) since he abandoned the goods before arriving there.

I should imagine that the state from where he is employed ( or self-employed ) could press charges for non-fulfilment, urged thereto by those who owned the goods, and those who hired him to deliver and who are responsible for the safe passage of the items.

This is the crime of embezzlement. Embezzlement occurs when a person lawfully receives property belonging to another, and then subsequently converts that property with intent to deprive the owner of it. It is distinct from larceny, which requires the element of taking the property without the consent of the owner.

To prove embezzlement, you must show: (1) the unauthorized, (2) conversion (3) of personal property (or choses in action) (4) belonging to another person (5) by a person who has lawful possession of the property and (6) owes a fiduciary duty to the rightful owner.

In your hypo, it’s unclear in which jurisdiction the actual conversion occurred. But courts can exercise jurisdiction over embezzlement as long as any of the elements occurred within their reach:

So Joe could be tried where he loaded up the shipment.

I’m not so sure. In my OP, I stated that the intent was formed on the road, and that he had nothing but good faith when loading up at the depot. When he formed the intent, he promptly abandoned the goods (e.g. within the same minute or something, but he did have enough time to settle the intent in his mind, as opposed to a fleeting fantasy.

Or, we can imagine another offense. Assuming that the driver does not own the truck he is driving, he could, on the road, form the intent to commit vandalism, and damage the truck in some way such as breaking a window or denting the fender, which he does. He then continues driving as before. He confesses to his supervisor, but admits that he doesn’t know where he was when he damaged the truck.

Or, suppose that Joe is an ambulance driver transporting an unconscious patient. He sets out on the road as set up before in good faith, but in some uncertain and unremembered jurisdiction, forms an intent to commit rape and rapes the patient, then gets back on the road. Mutatis mutandis, he confesses to rape, but honestly states that he passed through several cities and counties and can’t remember in which one he was in when he raped the patient.

I’ve been driving in unfamiliar areas and realized that I wasn’t certain which jurisdiction I was in, so I don’t think the premises are outrageously impossible.

Or, we can come up with a situation where whether or not an act/intent combination is an offense is jurisdiction-specific. For example, Joe sets out in good faith, driving from Jurisdiction A to Jurisdiction E, passing through B,C, and D along the way. Sometime, in an unremembered jurisdiction, he decides that he is going to stop and shoot off his gun. Intentionally discharging a firearm in public without a good reason such as self-defense or legitimate, lawful hunting during hunting season (which it isn’t at the time) is an offense in jurisdiction C, but not in A, B, D, or E. As before, he confesses, but by the time he does so, his gun is cold and the police cannot find any casings or bullets near the road.

I’d imagine they’d just give him a pass on the unlawful discharge. De minimis and all of that.

For the rest, if he can’t remember I’d imagine the location he confessed in would just charge him and let him prove he didn’t do it there. If he suddenly “remembers” that he really really did it somewhere else, well then they’ve got him there.

Doesn’t matter. He can be tried where any element of the crime happened. One element of the crime is the accepting of the personal property in a way that forms a fiduciary duty.

No, it’s a good hypo. In fact, something similar happened in Kroll v. State, 941 A. 2d 1105 (Md Ct App 2008).

Johnny Kroll kidnapped a nine-year-old girl in Maryland, drove her to Pennsylvania, and raped her, injuring her so badly she needed surgery. He then drove back into Maryland, and she escaped and called police.

Kroll was charged with the kidnapping and the rape, pled guilty, and was sentenced to life. After 25 years, he came forward to point out that the rape occurred in Pennsylvania and Maryland had no business sentencing him.

A guilty plea normally waives all non-jurisdictional defects, but this was a jurisdictional defect; Maryland had no choice but to release him.

And of course the statute of limitations had run in Pennsylvania and in the federal courts, so he couldn’t be retried there.

Then he can’t be convicted. Establishing jurisdiction is an essential element of the crime and one that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Did you have to use the bathroom or something, Bricker? You sort of stopped in the middle of the story there. It sounds like they’ve kept Kroll in the pokey one way or another ever since.

Here’s the latest on Mr. Kroll.