Dallas Father Found Not Guilty Of Theft For Confiscating Daughter's Phone

| by Karin Sun
Ronald JacksonRonald Jackson

A Dallas, Texas, father who took away his 12-year-old daughter's phone as punishment has been found not guilty of theft.

Ronald Jackson, 36, was acquitted of the theft charge in a Dallas County criminal court on Jan. 26 after Judge Lisa Green ordered the jury to find him not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence, according to WFAA.

Jackson reportedly confiscated the phone from his daughter in September 2013 to discipline her for sending inappropriate texts.

"I was being a parent," he told CBS 11. "You know, a child does something wrong, you teach them what's right. You tell them what they did wrong and you give them a punishment to show that they shouldn't be doing that."

When the girl's mother, Michelle Steppe, found out Jackson had taken the phone away, however, she called the police. When officers from the Grand Prairie Police Department showed up at Jackson's door to ask for the iPhone 4 back, he refused.

"I didn't want the police department telling me how to parent my child," he said.

Three months later, Jackson received a citation in the mail charging him with theft of property less than $50 in value, a Class C misdemeanor. He was offered a plea deal in January 2014 in exchange for returning the phone, according to court records cited by WFAA.

Jackson rejected the deal and decided to take his case to trial instead.

At that point, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office recharged Jackson with theft of property between $50 and $500, a Class B misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

In April 2015, he was arrested at his home around 2 a.m. in the morning, CBS 11 notes. He was released from jail after posting the $1,500 cash bail.

He was found not guilty at the end of a two-day trial in which his daughter, now 15, testified against him on the stand.

Steppe, who is currently separated from Jackson, said she was upset over the verdict because she had purchased the phone for her daughter and the phone records are under her name, not Jackson's.

"You can't take someone's property, regardless if you're a parent or not," Steppe told WFAA.

The couple never married, and Jackson was reportedly not a part of his daughter's life until she was 7 years old.

Jackson said the incident has irrevocably damaged his relationship with both his daughter and the girl's mother.

"I have to separate myself from them," he said. "I can't ever have a relationship with them again."

Jackson's lawyer, Cameron Gray, said he plans to file a federal civil rights complaint over the way his client was treated by the Grand Prairie Police Department and the district attorney's office. 

Jackson still has the phone in his possession. 

Sources: WFAA, CBS 11 / Photo Credit: WFAA, Ashok Govind/Flickr

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