Star-Lord is introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy landing on the “abandoned planet” Morag. In an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star-Lord finds the Infinity Stone behind a locked door and suspended in a field of energy.
The immediate legal issues: Did Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, commit burglary on Morag? If so, who was Star-Lord stealing from?
Burglary at common law was breaking and entering into the dwelling of another at night with the intent to commit a felony. Modern statutes now define burglary as any building and it does not have to be at night. See, Black’s Law Dictionary iPad App, 9th Edition.
Larceny is the unlawful taking of someone else’s personal property. Id.
Peter Quill effectively picking the lock to the vault with the Infinity Stone meets the modern definition of burglary, because he entered the locked vault with the intention of taking the Infinity Stone, which would be larceny, thus meeting the felony requirement of burglary.
While the common law elements for both crimes are meet, there is a huge defense that potentially makes committing each crime impossible: Morag was abandoned. Meaning all of the property on the planet was also abandoned.
Abandoned property is property that the owner voluntarily surrenders or disclaims. Id. A person who finds abandoned property is entitled to keep it. See, Michael v. First Chicago Corp., 139 Ill. App. 3d 374, 382, 487 N.E.2d 403, 409 (1985).
In the case of Morag, it appeared everyone on the planet had been dead for a long time or left for another world. The Infinity Stone was neither lost or mislaid, but left in the vault of an abandoned planet.
As the planet Morag was abandoned, so goes for all claims of property on the planet. As such, Star-Lord could not have committed either burglary or larceny, because the Infinity Stone was also abandoned on Morag. As the finder of abandoned property, the Infinity Stone was rightfully Star-Lord’s property.
Conversely, Korath the Pursuer and his men committed attempted robbery on Star-Lord when they tried to take the Infinity Stone by force.