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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1804
Experience:  California lawyer since 1976.
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I purchased a PT Cruiser from a dealership that went out of

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I purchased a PT Cruiser from a dealership that went out of business a couple weeks after I made the purchase and to my knowledge the owner of this dealership has died of cancer. I made loan payments for approximately 3 years to Citi Auto, until I traded it in at another dealership for a new car. Upon, paying off the Citi loan we learned they never got the title for the PT Cruiser therefor they couldn't give us the title since they never received it. Now the dealership that took the pt cruiser is treating legal action against me if I don't get the title to them by going through a complicated process with the state. They are saying if I don't get the title it's fraud. So far I have refused to do anything further to get the title. I found out today a sheriff was looking for me to serve some papers and I can only assume it's for this. How can I be charged when I originally bought the car in good faith from a dealer and had no idea they didn't have the title? Whats my defense?
The sheriff may have been looking for you to serve papers in a civil case rather than because you have been charged in a criminal case.

If it does turn out to be a criminal case, the DA will have a serious problem proving it. Fraud is a specific intent crime ... that is, in order to commit fraud you have to specifically intend to do so. It cannot be fraud if you didn't know about the title problem when you bought the new car.

It seems more likely that this is for a civil lawsuit. In this regard, you could be on the losing end despite your lack of knowledge, as that would not be a defense in a civil suit. The best thing you can do is bite the bullet and do whatever you have to to get the title problem straightened out.
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