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J.Hazelbaker
J.Hazelbaker, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4385
Experience:  Attorney and small business owner with 10 years experience in the general practice of law.
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Hello, 3 weeks ago my home was burglarized and I lost my coin

Resolved Question:

Hello, 3 weeks ago my home was burglarized and I lost my coin collection in excess of $10,000. A suspect was caught selling a fraction of my coins but so far while this case is still in police hands, the suspect has obtained an attorney and has been uncooperative with the police. This suspect could prove valuable to naming another suspect and helping recover the coins. If all else fails with the criminal justice system, can I pursue a civil lawsuit against the suspect to compensate me for the lost coin collection?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  J.Hazelbaker replied 2 years ago.

J.Hazelbaker :

Hello. Thank you for using JustAnswer.

J.Hazelbaker :

Yes. Whenever a criminal act is committed against a particular individual, the criminal can be both prosecuted by the state and sued by the victim.

J.Hazelbaker :

Based on your description of the theft, your civil claim would be called

J.Hazelbaker :

"conversion" under New Hampshire law.

J.Hazelbaker :

The best strategy is to wait and see how the criminal case resolves.

Customer:

A conversion! interesting.. what chances would I have of winning such a case?

Customer:

i see... true

J.Hazelbaker :

If the person is convicted or pleads guilty

J.Hazelbaker :

then you don't have to prove he did it. You only have to prove the value of the coins.

Customer:

pleads guilts to the burglary or selling stolen property

J.Hazelbaker :

That makes your civil case much easier to resolve.

Customer:

I am sure his attorney will not let him plead guilty to the burglary

J.Hazelbaker :

Correct. If he pleads guilty to the criminal burglary, theft, or selling stolen property, then you do not have to prove liability in a subsequent civil suit against the person. You only have to prove the amount of "damages" (i.e. the value of the stolen coins).

Customer:

but hes withholding a name of the second person who knew me and had the coins.. can't that be argued in court for obstructing justice?

J.Hazelbaker :

It could and he could be charged with that.

Customer:

oh wow theres some good news there

Customer:

i could not work yesterday and today so upset about it

J.Hazelbaker :

In addition, the court, as part of any resolution of the criminal case will very likely require him to make full "restitution".

Customer:

the coins he sold were all in my collection and somewhat rare.. i hope their attorney does not cast doubt on whether they were mine

Customer:

interesting and hopeful

J.Hazelbaker :

That means, the person's sentence is not complete and he can be jailed again, if he does not pay you for the value of the stolen and unrecovered property.

Customer:

so if hes not found guilty of the burglary he can still be responsible for the remaining lost items?

Customer:

but found guilty of selling stolen property

J.Hazelbaker :

Yes. If he is acquitted of the crime, then you can still sue in civil court (remember the OJ case).

J.Hazelbaker :

The burden of proof in a criminal case is much, much higher.

Customer:

yes I remember the OJ case. thank you for giving me some hope.

J.Hazelbaker :

Even when a person is found not guilty in a criminal court, they often lose subsequent civil cases because the plaintiff only has to proof by a "preponderance" of the evidence (rather than "beyond reasonable doubt")

J.Hazelbaker :

You are welcome. Good luck.

J.Hazelbaker :

Please let me know what follow-up questions you have. If my above responses have been helpful, please click Accept so that I get credit for the time/effort. You may always restart the thread and ask follow-up questions at any time by clicking the “Reply” button at the bottom of the question/answer thread. You can access this thread later in your profile under the “My Questions” tab.

Customer:

Thank you very much!

J.Hazelbaker, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4385
Experience: Attorney and small business owner with 10 years experience in the general practice of law.
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