If someone stole my TV and then replaced it with another, can they legally take the new TV back?

I had my belongings at my dad’s house. When I came to retrieve them, my TV was missing. He had pawned it for drugs. So he later bought me a new TV to replace the one he stole. Some time later he took the ne TV and pawned it for drugs but went and got it out of the pawn shop 2 weeks later. Just yesterday he picked an argument and took it to the pawn shop again, as well as changing the locks to the house where all my belongings are. He claims that since he bought it for me, he can take it when he wants. Is this true?

Asked on June 21, 2016 under Criminal Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If he bought it for you and gave it to you, then no, he had no right to take it back: a gift, once given, belongs to the person it was given to and the giver has no legal rights to it. You could sue him for the value of the TV; you could also sue him for the  value of the belongings he is keeping from you and/or for a court order requiring him to give you access to your belongings. In addition to filing a police report, you can bring a lawsuit for the value of the TV and belongings, coupled with a motion (commonly called an "order to show cause" in many jurisdictions) seeking a court order granting you access. It would be best if you hired a lawyer to help you: court orders can be more complex to seek than just monetary compensation, so if you do want a court order to let you into the home to get your belongings, you want a lawyer to help you.

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