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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 118118
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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My daughters car keys were stolen by a friend and his friend

Customer Question

My daughter's car keys were stolen by a friend and his friend (now former friends) while she was asleep in the night. The driver was pulled over for running a stop sign, and was cited for DUI, so the car was impounded since it was his 3rd violation for DUI (we live in North Carolina). My daughters purse was also in the car - the money, cell phone, and food stamp card were also taken.

She reported it to the police, but they didn't press charges for a stolen car since they knew each other. She has been told to get an attorney, but she has no job and no money. She will lose her car this week because she doesn't have the money to get it out. They did admit on her My Space account that they took the car and apologized, The "friend" and his friend won't respond to calls and text messages, but he "friend" and his friend won't respond to calls and text messages.

She only has 3 days before the car is sold - what can she do???

Nancy in NC
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
She is going to need to first file a theft report against the friend and charge them with auto theft. Then she would need to go through the court to get a court ordered release of the vehicle and unfortunately this will require an attorney to do. She can start by going to the DA's office after she files auto theft charges against the person and show them that she filed the charges and show proof of ownership of the vehicle and ask them to release it to her. If the DA refuses, then she would need to spend some money on an attorney, usually an attorney will handle this for about $500, depending on how many times they have to go to court to get the court to order the release. Her other option on finding an attorney is calling the state bar and asking for the pro bono attorneys in the area who can assist her.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Emily (my daughter) has already tried getting a court ordered release; Like I said, the problem is she has no money for an attorney! I called around and so far, I couldn't find anyone who would take her case pro bono. In fact, I got sent on a wild goose chase from atty to atty. Finally got one who said he would charge $750! (this is my soap box - ludicrous, for the amount of time he would put in, especially that she has no resources). So far the fine isn't $750. I got another story from her yesterday, that the fine would go up to the value of the car.


Any other ideas? The guys who took the car, money, etc. should be responsible, but Emily was told she would have to wait until the court hearing in March. That doesn't get her car back. She is asking me for money. I could loan some to her, but I would need it back. Would I have to sue the thief? Small claims court? Since he is on unemployment, how could I (or Emily) have his unemployement check garnished to get some money in the meantime? How would we go about getting a wage garnishment? Would we have to pay for an attorney?


I am sorry if this offends you, but it seems to me that people who need the court system the most, like my daughter, (I have a son going through another issue) are the ones who are least able to pay.


I need as many details on what I can do in this state as you can offer.


Thank you so very much!!



Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
While you, and many others like you, may think that $750 is a lot to an attorney, I am afraid that it really is not given the current hourly rates charged by attorneys is roughly $250 per hour (and between drafting and filing the motion and attending court I could see this taking at least 3-4 hours of time). The bad problem is that the American legal system really does not provide enough low cost help for those who are not facing criminal charges. You need to try two things, first legal aid and then calling the state bar and asking them for the pro bono attorneys. Unfortunately, in the state of the current legal system, these matters very often leave people like you frustrated, but she is going to have to file a motion with the court and she would need an attorney to do this. You can also try the local law school's poverty law clinic and seek their assistance.