What’s the law or rule that states police can’t enforce a civil matter?

My car was repossessed by the bank and the police forced me out of the car, took my keys and got my car key to the tow truck driver. There was no court order in the matter. Therefore it was a civil matter and the police’s only duty in a civil matter is to keep the peace.

Asked on June 2, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the car had already been repossessed--that is, title to or ownership of the car had been transferred to the bank prior to your run-in with the police--then this would not have been a civil matter, but a criminal one: once the bank is the legal owner of the car, then it is theft if you take/drive their car without permission. I suspect that this is what happened--or at least was the state of affairs that the police believed existed: that it had been reported to them that you were driving a car which did not beling to you--since you are correct: the police do NOT intervene in civil matters between third parties. They have no authority to do so.


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