What to do if a computer was a gift from a mother to a son but the mother has now taken it back the computer and after multiple requests will not return it?

The son purchased the computer online with his credit card and registered the computer in his name. The mother gave the son a cash gift to pay off the credit card. The mother took back the computer when the son stopped attending college stating he would get it back when he was in school again. Now he is returning to school and has produced much documentation proving to her that he is accepted to school, finances arranged, etc. (and sent the package to her return receipt). After multiple requests,the mother still refuses to return the computer. What are his legal rights next steps? Is this theft?

Asked on July 28, 2012 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The dispute between the mother and son over the computer issue is for all intents and purposes a civil as opposed to a criminal matter given the familial relationship and the perceived power struggle of parent over child.

I suggest that the best way for the child to work out the dispute is to have a face to face meeting with his mother to try and get possession of the computer voluntarily as opposed to filing a small claims court action against the mother for the fair market value of the electronic item.

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