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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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I am being accused of vandalizing a car by keying it. The person

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I am being accused of vandalizing a car by keying it. The person who's car it is states he has video of me doing it, but won't show it to me. He refuses to speak to me directly, only via text message by cell phone, where he keeps telling me that he'll press charges unless I pay for it. When I told him to get an estimate, he came back hours later stating it was over $1000 in damages but that he can't fax me the estimate for a few days - plus he now nows where I'm employed and I am concerned that he is going to have someone show up there tomorrow to press charges against me. He will not show this alleged video and I need to be able to protect myself from being taken advantage of.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 8 years ago.
Threatening to prosecute unless you pay for the damages is a form of extortion in California, which is a felony and a much more serious crime than the one he is accusing you of (either malicious mischief and/or auto tampering could be charged for keying a car).

However, either of those charges is a misdemeanor, for which you cannot be arrested by a copy (because it wasn't committed in the presence of an officer) until the case has been reviewed by the DA, criminal charges filed and a warrant issued for your arrest. The only way he could do anything tomorrow would be to talk a cop into going with him to your office so that he can place you under citizen's arrest and then have the cop take you into custody. It is very unlikely that the cops would do that. Rather, they will take a report and follow the procedure I described above.

If he has good reason to believe you did this, whether he actually has a video or not, you should give serious consideration to paying for the damages so that he won't file a criminal report. Even though what he is doing is also illegal, you would be better off not getting caught up in the legal process.
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