If my ex-husband and I pawned some of his parents things while married, now that we are divorced and they are claiming theft, can they come after me?

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If my ex-husband and I pawned some of his parents things while married, now that we are divorced and they are claiming theft, can they come after me?

While married and hard for some cash, my husband and I pawned some of our things. He also gave me some of his parents items to pawn as well. I made a few trips into the pawn shop and he accompanied me on one of the trips. This was done 2 years ago and we split up 1 1/2 years ago. Once we split up and I moved out of his parents house I received a phone call from a “detective” and he claimed that I am on tape pawning the items that I stole and my ex-in laws are requesting complete value of all the items including what their son pawned of his own. There has been no police report from the family.

Asked on October 6, 2011 under Criminal Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

To pawn somebody else's belongings without their permission *is* in fact theft. It does not matter that you and your ex-husband are divorced; if you participated in taking his parent's belongings, you could be sued for their value. You would not be liable for the value of any of your ex-husband's belongings, inasmuch as he had the right to pawn them or give them to you to pawn on his behalf. (Though the family may now be claiming either that 1) those items belonged to the parents, not the son; or that 2) you took his items without his  permission--this would present possible factual issues, though legally, if the items were his and he gave them to you to pawn, you are not legally liable.)

There is no requirement that someone whose items were taken without permission must file a police report or press charges. That person may elect to simply sue and try to collect the items' value.


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