Can I be held charged with car theft for a loan that was declined and the person named on the loan failed to return the car, if I was not on as a co-signer?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I be held charged with car theft for a loan that was declined and the person named on the loan failed to return the car, if I was not on as a co-signer?

I recently went with a friend to co-sign with her on a car. The car salesman ran her credit and she was approved for the loan without me having to co-sign. When we went in to see the finance officer, the loan agreement forms were only in her name and she was the only one on the loan agreement. Then 3 weeks later, I received a call from the car lot saying the bank didn’t approve the loan and that she needed to return the car. She never did. I received a call from the county recovery unit a few days ago saying if she didn’t return the car we both would be charged with auto theft.

Asked on April 29, 2012 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Non-owners or non-co-signors can be charged with car theft--after all, most car theives are not owners or signatories to a loan. All that matters is whether you participated in stealing the car. To charge you, there must be reasonable cause to think that you helped your friend obtain the car, take the car, hide the car, etc.--and moreover, that you did so with a criminal intent (i.e the intention to take the car without paying). To convict you, they would have to show this by evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt," which can be hard standard to meet, but not an impossible one--for example, consider what happens if your friend turns on you and testifies that stealing the car was all your idea, in order to try to secure herself less of a penalty?


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption