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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 14511
Experience:  13 years experience in criminal law, BA in criminal justice
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My sister has admitted in a deposition

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My sister has admitted in a deposition to searching in my dad's computer and filing cabinets for legal documents such as current or old wills, financial reports, bank statements, etc. which she admitted she copied on his copier and took from his home while he was in the hospital and she gained access to his home. Please tell me whether potential crimes have been committed and whom should I call to pursue actions. Thank you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  ashevillelawyer replied 2 years ago.
Welcome! Thank you for your question.

Is your father still alive?

Was your father mentally competent at the time?

Did your father give her permission, written or oral?

Does your father have someone named to be his power of attorney or guardian?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He passed away on July 4, 2011 and was mentally competent at the time. My dad did not give my sister permission to look through his personal files, file cabinets or his computer. Actually, my dad wrote my sister out of his will 3 years before he passed away. Another sister had a POA for my dad on the date of his death
Expert:  ashevillelawyer replied 2 years ago.
Are you asking about civil suit against her or criminal liability?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am interested in any possible civil action, but, most importantly, what possiible criminal actions could we seek.
Expert:  ashevillelawyer replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry for the delays. The added information will help us. The civil options are limited since the damages where to your father personally.

I am going to send your question to the criminal law experts to review and respond. There is no need to respond to this post. In fact, responding could cause some delay in the criminal experts seeing the post.
Expert:  Legalease replied 2 years ago.

Hello there.

-

If your sister had been completely barred from your father's home and she did this without his permission at all or the permission of the person who had the POA at the time that this happened, then you can contact the local police department regarding a claim for criminal trespass and breaking and entereing -- because she did not remove any valuables (while a will is valuable, it is not like removing jewelry or money), there are really no criminal theft charges here that I can see based upon the actions that your sister has admitted to. Now, whether or not any criminal charges will be pursued will be completely up to the local town or county police authorities -- you may go to them with this information and copies of the deposition to show that she admitted to doing these things, but they may decline to look into the matter or even if they look into the matter, they may decline to prosecute her for anything and decide that what occurred is really a private family matter and they may tell you to pursue remedies in civil law (such as a lawsuit for civil trespass and invasion of privacy) or estate law (such as pursuing the will in probate court and making certain your sister is completely cut out as your father intended). When members of the general public approach the police department in this manner we can never be completely certain that the police or the DA's office will want to assist and pursue the matter criminally against the offending person and the discretion always lies with those authorities on what to do here. You could end up with a situation where the police do get involved and then your sister states that your father never told her she was not to enter his house or he never specifically barred her from going into the house and if no one can state that your father actually did this in their presence or the father told them that your sister was forbidden from entereing his house, then the police may decide that she had as much right to go into the house as the rest of the children (so there was no trespass). So, my suggestion is that you contact the local police authorities and tell them everything you have stated here and even suggest to them that what she did is criminal trespass and breaking and entering into rooms and cabinets where she did not belong and did not have your father's permission or the permission of the POA. I was a prosecutor for a few years and I have seen cases and claims like this go in both directions -- sometimes the police will pursue it and sometimes they will not depending upon time passed since the incident, seriousness of the incident and what the overall situation and dynamic happens to be and you will not know if they will even contemplate prosecuting this until you actually speak to an officer or a detective about these matters.

--

I wish I could give you a quick and easy answer on this but it is really a discretionary call on the part of the officers and the DA. While what she did is outrageous to your family and offensive to your father and his memory, criminal prosecution is completely in the hands of the police and ultimately the DA.

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MARY

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Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 14511
Experience: 13 years experience in criminal law, BA in criminal justice
Legalease and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you

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