Can I be arrested for pawning rental equipment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be arrested for pawning rental equipment?

I pawned a TV from a rent-a-center. The pawn is not due yet but the rent-a-center payment is due and I don’t have it. I can’t get the TV from the pawn shop yet. What happens if I tell the rent-a-center

that its TV is in a pawn shop? Can I go to jail on the spot?

Asked on May 4, 2018 under Criminal Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be arrested. You cannot pawn anything you do not own, just as you can't sell anything you do not own: leasing or renting is not ownership for this purpose, and does not give you the right to transfer ownership (i.e. to sell, give away, pawn, etc.). In pawning a leased TV, you essentially stole the TV--exercised control over it (pawning it) that is inconsistent with the actual owner's (the RAC's) rights and ownership. You can only pawn if you own; so in pawning, you took the TV (stole it) from the RAC to do so. Therefore, you committed theft the same as if you went into someone else's house, took their TV, and pawned it, and you can be arrested for that.

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