Can you be charged and arrested for not returning leased merchandise to rent a center after2 months of missed payments?

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Can you be charged and arrested for not returning leased merchandise to rent a center after2 months of missed payments?

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, you clearly can be sued by the center, for the return of the merchandise and/or monetary damages (compensation).

As to criminal liability: it's a not a crime to be unable to pay a debt; it is a crime to take out a debt or obligation when one knows that one cannot pay it. It is also, unfortunately, a crime to keep another's property when you know you have no legal right to it--such as keeping a rent-a-center's, etc. merchadise when you've defaulted on payments and therefore have no right to keep it.

So in answer to your question: if you return the merchandise, you could possibly be sued for any amounts you owe under the agreement, but you would not face criminal penalties. But if you hold onto the merchandise knowing you don't have the right to it any more, that could be a crime and you could face arrest and charges.


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