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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 19647
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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Hi, I was wondering if this is civil or criminal. Theft by

Customer Question

Hi, I was wondering if this is civil or criminal. Theft by deception in PA. This is what happened. I had let my now ex-boyfriend borrow my Playstation 3 to play for a little while, I had told him a couple weeks. He said that was fine and would give it back to me when I would ask for it. Well, a few days after he borrowed it he left for rehab. He didn't complete it and came home after 4 days do to a death in the family. I had asked about my playstation and he said he'd give it to me in a couple days. Well, it's now been almost 2 weeks later and last night I was at his house and asked for it back. He told me he had it, I went to get it from where it was and it was gone. He continued to tell me that he wrapped it up and his mom must have moved it and he would find it. I had asked his mom and she said she didn't see it let alone move it. Then he finally confessed to selling MY playstation3 to his drug dealer for 100 dollars. He promised he would get it back. He hasn't gotten it back and his dealer changed her phone number. I let him borrow it (to play it) not sell it or do what he pleased with it. I had called the police and the officer wasn't sure what to charge him with so he filed a complaint and told me it would have to be civil. He said it wasn't criminal since I let him borrow my property. I did, but he sold my property with out my permission and promised me he would return it when I asked for it back. Is this a criminal charge and if it is, what exactly is it so I can go back to the police to further press charges? In total the playstation with the games that are also gone was about 490-500 dollars.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 3 years ago.

Lucy, Esq. :

Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

JACUSTOMER-8tpyf2nk- :

Ok, thank you.

Lucy, Esq. :

The crime of theft would apply to this situation.

Lucy, Esq. :

However, police aren't required to investigate every crime. They have discretion to tell a person to handle matters civilly.

Lucy, Esq. :

The crime of theft is also the civil suit of conversion.

Lucy, Esq. :

Theft by deception would be if he lied to get the playstation in the first place. So, that doesn't apply here, because you let him borrow it.

Lucy, Esq. :

Under 18 PA Statutes, 3921, theft involves the unlawful taking, or exerting unlawful control over, an item. That's what happened here. By selling it, he exerted unlawful control over your items.

JACUSTOMER-8tpyf2nk- :

So how would I go about trying again to press criminal charges?

Lucy, Esq. :

You can call the police again, or go down there, and tell them that you want to file a report for theft. They should take the report. They may or may not choose to investigate and to arrest him. Even if they do, the DA would also have the option of declining to prosecute.

Lucy, Esq. :

That's why the officer told you that it was a civil matter. The police and the criminal courts are just so busy that they usually don't have time to investigate stuff like this.

JACUSTOMER-8tpyf2nk- :

His mom pressed theft charges on him and he's going to court in december for it but she wants to now drop charges. The officer was aware of this he arrested him for it. I'm really frustrated. I know if I take him to civil court I will not see a penny back for my playstation. I spent a lot of money on it and he sold it to a drug dealer. That's why i want to press criminal charges so something is done. How would they investigate it? They can't find my property, the drug dealer changed her phone number after I had called her to get it back.

JACUSTOMER-8tpyf2nk- :

So pretty much there isn't much I can do. All I do is tell them I want to press charges on him for theft again?

Lucy, Esq. :

I can understand why you're frustrated. If they prosecute him criminally, he'll be looking at fines and possibly jail, but it will take awhile to get restitution.

Lucy, Esq. :

They'll take your statement, and they'll talk to him. They'll look at any emails or texts you have from him that mention it. They'll try to find out who owned the telephone number you had. They probably won't actually get the playstation back, though.

Lucy, Esq. :

Tell them they you need to file a police report. Usually, they take it, because people need it to show the insurance company.

JACUSTOMER-8tpyf2nk- :

How does civil work? I've never had to do anything like this before. If I go about this in civil court I'll have to wait for him to pay me back right?

Lucy, Esq. :

Once you have a judgment, you can levy his bank accounts or take his tax returns or garnish his wages.

Lucy, Esq. :

For the amount you're out, you can file in Small Claims Court, which is very user-friendly.

JACUSTOMER-8tpyf2nk- :

That's the problem, he has nothing. He doesn't work, he doesn't have a bank account and he owes the IRS money.

Lucy, Esq. :

Here is a guide put out by the court system. Even though it's designed for Philadelphia, it has a lot of good information.
http://courts.phila.gov/pdf/brochures/small-claims-court.pdf

Lucy, Esq. :

Judgments are good for five years, and they can be renewed. So, you have plenty of time to recover.


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