If I found some golf clubs that were laying in the middle of a field and sold them to a pawn shop, is it possible I’ll have legal problems later?

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If I found some golf clubs that were laying in the middle of a field and sold them to a pawn shop, is it possible I’ll have legal problems later?

Asked on April 10, 2012 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the golf clubs were abandoned property, which appears to be the case, you shouldn't worry about it.  However, if you had a reasonable clue as to the identity of the owner of the golf clubs, you could be charged with larceny.  Larceny is theft.  Larceny is defined as the trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive.  Taking and carrying away the golf clubs and then selling them to the pawn shop would permanently deprive the owner of his/her property and would constitute larceny.  Again, this is only if you had a reasonable clue as to the identity of the owner. 

If the owner somehow discovers that you took the golf clubs and sold them to the pawn shop, the owner could sue you for conversion.  Conversion is the unauthorized assumption and the right of ownership over the personal property of another to the exclusion of the owner's rights.  Conversion is any unauthorized act which deprives an owner of his/her property permanently or for an indefinite time.  In a lawsuit for conversion, damages (the amount of compensation one is seeking in the lawsuit) would be a forced sale which is the value of the golf clubs.  You may be able to argue that the golf clubs were abandoned property left in the field and therefore your action did not constitute conversion.  You shouldn't worry about it because the golf clubs appear to have been abandoned property left in the field where you found them.


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