What can happen if I pawned a ring that I did not know was stolen?

UPDATED: May 22, 2011

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What can happen if I pawned a ring that I did not know was stolen?

I pawned a ring for my girlfriend. She said it was hers but it was actually stolen from her cousin. My girlfriend admitted stealing it; I had no clue.

Asked on May 22, 2011 under Criminal Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Criminal liabilty generally depends on a criminal mens rea, or state of mind. As a general matter, if you did not know and reasonably should not have known that the ring was stolen you cannot be held criminally liable for it.

Civilly liable, though, is a different story. If you sold (or pawned) something belonging to another, even if you did not have criminal intention, the owner can usually recover the cost or value of the item from you. Thus, you may need to repay the cousin the value of the ring. Your girlfriend could also be sued for the value of it; she might also face criminal liability, since  she was the one who stole it.

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.

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