Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Hello - Thank you for contacting JustAnswer. My name is Michael; I look forward to helping you with your criminal problem today.
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. There are two parts to this answer: 1) The steps you need to take, and 2) whether I think you'll be successful. I'll handle each separately.
1) First, you'll need to go to your local police/sheriff's office to file a report. You'll sign an affidavit swearing to the facts that you believe occurred and what was taken, along with the value of the property. The investigators will investigate and if they believe you, they can file the charges and issue a warrant for the person's arrest.
2) It is probably going to be difficult to bring this person to justice. Many jurisdictions won't extradite on small theft cases because it costs a lot of money or they don't have the resources. The only real chance would be if this person was caught in the state with an open warrant when they returned. That has a small chance of happening but it is a possibilty.
Are you there?
When I input my question initially, I actually did so from the perspective of someone else to help get the answer I was looking for. Now that I better understand how this process works though, it might be helpful if I provide some more information.
A brief description of the events are as follows:
1. I was given a family heirloom by my father
2. My sibling claims that the heirloom was not willingly given to me but my father's mental capacity unfortunately isn't what it used to be and he isn't really able to tell the true story.
3. My sibling has power of attorney and has "invited me" to come up to talk about the issue.
4. I'm concerned that the invite is merely a way to trick me into being on premises in an effort to arrest me.
5. I am not overly concerned with the sibling's chance of prevailing but I clearly want to avoid the potential stress and costs of a "false" arrest and I am not willing to return the heirloom at this time, but I feel like I am being set up for the "false" arrest and that the sibling will offer to drop everything if I return the item.
6. I may be overthinking this whole issue but it surprises me that an apparent olive leaf has been extended after several years and I can't help but think that something is amiss
I hope this helps - sorry for the confusion initially but I wanted to see what the other party might be thinking....
I understand. In this situation, regardless of whether you were given the item legally or not, there is nothing you can do to keep from getting arrested other than not travelling to that jurisdiction. There is no way to tell what this family member has/has not told police/authorities. The standard for an arrest is VERY low, "probable cause", which means it is very easy to be arrested. Contrarily, the standard for conviction is VERY high, "beyond a reasonable doubt", which in this case would be very hard to prove that you stole the item. In conclusion, you could certainly be arrested if this person has concocted a story, but I doubt you would be convicted for theft.
But if we met outside of that jurisdiction, then the risk of an arrest is considerably lower? Is there anything that could be done ahead of time to limit the risk of an arrest?
Let me check the statute of limitations on theft. When did this occur? And did it occur in NJ?
It occurred in NJ and it's probably been approximately 3 years, although I don't know for sure if the exact date could be proven by either side. My guess is that the gift was given in early 2009, off the top of my head
If it occurred more than 5 years ago, the statute of limitations for a "theft" crime would have run, meaning it's too late to charge you. To answer your question, yes, meeting outside the jurisdiction in which it occurred would all but guarantee that you wouldn't be arrested.
If you want my honest opinion - for a civil/inheritance issue like this, I doubt authorities would agree to file theft charges. But, I'm providing information in the alternative because you never know.
thank you, XXXXX XXXXX doubt he would tell the story as I have above! If his goal was to have me arrested, would there be any way to do so outside of the jurisdiction, or would he simply have to accuse me of a crime, and then a warrant would be put out in that particular jurisdiction? Also, would there be any way for me to travel to that jurisdiction without being worried about this? could I get something from him ahead of time that would eliminate the risk, if he was willing to do so as a gesture of good faith (which he may not even consider, I don't know)
No, you wouldn't be arrested if you were outside the state (most likely). If there was an active warrant, there would be no way to travel to that state without the risk of being arrested.
Sorry, if there is no active warrant (which I don't believe there is) then could I theoretically get something from the sibling that would make me comfortable going? Could he have me arrested on the spot prior to getting a warrant, by co-ordinating ahead of time with authorities, or would there have to be a warrant out before I arrived? (said another way, if there isn't a warrant 5 minutes before I get into the jurisdiction, would that make me more comfortable?)
The authorities could agree not to make the warrant public and "spring" on you when you got there. I'm sorry, there just isn't any way to guarantee you wouldn't be arrested, especially not something from the sibling promising you wouldn't be.
I wish I could give you more encouraging information, but in this case, you're at risk if you enter the state.
I've got to run out of the office for a moment but I'll be back in 20 minutes or so. If I can answer anything further, let me know. Remember, I'm here to help and your satisfaction is guaranteed. If you don't have any questions and you valued my time, I'd ask you to consider rating me positively. Take care,Michael
Thank you for your help - last question - is all of NJ covered by the local police jurisdiction?
Yes, all of NJ is covered under the "theft" laws.
You would theoretically be in trouble anywhere in the state if the authorities communicated.
Again, I don't think it's probable.
Just giving you the info.
and they couldn't coordinate across state lines
thank you, XXXXX XXXXX definitely leave good feedback, I appreciate it
Yes, they could, but it's much less likely. And they would need to have some sort of active warrant to get other states involved.
thanks, XXXXX XXXXX good one!
I've got to run now, I hope I was helpful!
Good luck el bandito!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).