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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 111500
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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I've had a very contentious divorce and my wife took several

Customer Question

I've had a very contentious divorce and my wife took several thousand dollars worth of tools and kept them from me by locking them into a jointly owned vehicle. I was upset that I was unable to retrieve them and I flattened the tires on the van by pressing a screwdriver to the valve stems. I've been charged with a felony in missouri "tampering with a motor vehicle." I can't find another single case in the state of missouri where even slashing a tire has been charged as a felony. It is generally charged as property damage. Every instance I can find where someone was charged with this particular charge has been surrounding theft of a vehicle. This seems absolutely ridiculous. I've retained a lawyer and he's advised me to take a plea to avoid jail time. I'm looking for second opinions because this seems ridiculous.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
If the van is jointly owned, you cannot be convicted of damaging your own property. If you were on the registration as a registered owner and the van had not been awarded to your ex as part of the divorce property settlement, you were the owner of the vehicle. Under MO law, tampering requires it to be "property of another," which they cannot prove if you were a joint owner of the vehicle. Furthermore, she took tools of your trade belonging to you. See: http://www.criminalpropertydamage.com/missouri/
I would rethink this attorney and go shopping for another one, since you said the van is jointly owned, which means it is not "property of another" it is your property.

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