Is it a criminal offense to steal from family?

My wife is suffering from addiction. She left the house 2-1/2
yrs ago when I found out she hadnt been paying bills, some
for over a year. I love her, and the kids love her, but we
cant get her to admit her problem and get help. We tried
two interventions but she was tipped off by her relatives and
hid out. We are almost out of resources and trying anything
to get her help. She stole thousands of dollars from the
family and am thinking the threat of jail or court might make
her get help. She collected the rent on our rentals for
months but spent the money and didnt pay the mortgages
so we lost both houses. She also used a Target debit card
for months after leaving which deducts the money from my
checking account. Total of more than 3000.

Asked on December 15, 2018 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

If the money was in joint bank accounts, or she was listed as one of the landlords on the leases, etc. then this was not theft as a criminal act: she was as entitled to the money as the joint account holder, the other landlord (e.g. you), etc. and so could take it. 
If she took money from properties or accounts she did not control or was not an owner/account holder of, however, then it was theft; there is no exception to the theft statutes for taking money from family, and stealing from family is still stealing. So the real issue is whether she took money she had control over or a right to or not; if not, you could file charges against her.


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