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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Handling criminal and probation matters for over 14 years.
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I live in CA. Recently I saw a Craigs List ad offering to

Resolved Question:

I live in CA. Recently I saw a Craig’s List ad offering to swap an audio amplifier I wanted for one I had. The owner lived in North Carolina. He gave me a sob story so I shipped him my amplifier first. The last I heard from him was he would be picking up the amp that day.
After 2 weeks of no communication I contacted the Sheriffs Department that has jurisdiction for the area he lives in. I was told by a Deputy that this was a civil case not a criminal case.
Is this true?
It is not a question of contract performance, he did none. He posted the ad, not I. He enticed me and demonstrated NO performance. This is not criminal fraud or some other type of crime requiring investigation?
Please enlighten me.
Thank you
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Hi and thank you for using JustAnswer!

I am sorry to learn of your experience. Please clarify: what was the value of the amp that you sent?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. Do you have proof that he received the amp?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes usps delivery receipt, which shows a box of a given size and weight was delivered, not the exact contents. BTW no one fm Sheriff's office asked the value of the amp.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Thank you.

Let's see this through. To establish a crime, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that X person posted the ad, that X person communicated with you, that X person had the criminal intent to default, and that X person received the amp and did not carry through with the deal.

From the facts that you've described, can the prosecutor prove those specific facts beyond a reasonable doubt and, if so, how?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I can prove all except criminal intent beyond reasonable doubt. See below. Isn't this the reason we have police?

X person has had more than 1 month to respond to my emails and did not. This is either criminal intent or ???? Since he responded in a timely and professional manner in the past and after recent has made no attempt to respond or contact me in any manner a reasonable person might conclude criminal intent.

Clearly criminal intent could not be "proved" without some investigation of X person. Isn't this the reason we have police?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Let's take it a step back.

Where you present in North Carolina and did you actually witness the person actually do the things you accuse him of?

How will anyone identify him in court as being the crook?

Remember, the prosecutor has to prove all of the elements, including identity, beyond a reasonable doubt. Can you prove his identity in a courtroom?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have his signature to prove idenity. I have emails to show our mutual intent in entering the transaction.

Clearly his intent is suspicious and there are a 1000 possable explanations for his behivior. The determination of intent is the police and prosecutors job, no?

How do I light a fire to get someone to investagate? Mail fraud?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm robbed at gunpoint. I don't have to prove much to the police to get then to investage even though I may have no physical marks. What is the difference?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Correction. You have a signature. And, yes, you have e-mails. But, what proof do you have that it is this particular person? What proof do you have that this particular person sent those e-mails? How do you know that someone hasn't stolen his identity or that the name you are dealing with is bogus?

Remember, the prosecutor has to prove all of the elements, including in courtroom/in person identification beyond a reasonable doubt.

Who do you have who can go into court and point to the person in the courtroom and say: this person did it?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
I like your robbery analogy. What's different about that? Because when you're robbed, you see the actual person and can identify him.

If you can identify the robber in court, the prosecutor will get a conviction.

If you cannot identify the robber in court, the case gets dismissed.

Can you identify the person in court?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
At least I get to go to court. I never said I saw my robber. See the difference.
Handwrighting is addmissable in determining idenity, correct?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
If no one can identify the robber, no one goes to court.

Handwriting can be admissible if you have something to compare it with and have an expert to come in and testify to. Do you have something to compare it with to authenticate it?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Mr X is R. Kent Brown. Mr. Brown had to present photo id to a usps person to recive the package since he picked up at the post office.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Okay, very good. That's one piece. Now, will you have that USPS person come into court to testify about that one transaction to link it up. Remember, factually, no assumptions can be made. The prosecutor will have to have people in court to testify about each and every element.

How about the proof about who made the computer postings, etc.? Again, that will require in court testimony/proof.

I do not mean to keep dragging this on but, can you begin to see the difficulty and challenges and resources that are required for such a case -- especially when the prosecutor must prove a crime BEYOND a reasonable doubt?

Now, to the contrary, in a civil dispute you have a lesser/easier burden of proof.

Do the police agencies have the discretion to not dedicate the time and resources on certain things? Yes. Is it morally right? No. Is it legal for them to say that they are not going to investigate/pursue something and that you should go to civil court? Yes. Does it happen all of the time? Oh yes it does. As they all face tight budgets, a lot more of them are rationalizing that they are not going to spend thousands of dollars in personnel time on a $400 loss.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things.

If you have a follow-up question, please reply and ask it.

If you have other questions on different matters, you can ask me at Or there are also other Experts ready to assist you in a range of Legal specialties, Veterinary, Cars and others – you can reach them via the homepage.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I understand you trying to educate me.

I do not feel like you have exhausted your thinking in helping me get "some action".

Why have you not suggested I contact the local DA? What other options have you not suggested please?

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
You can certainly attempt to call the DA yourself. In my experience, DA's do not take or return such phone calls and they will not initiate cases without a police recommendation.

Separately, you are free to contact that police agency against and ask to speak with a supervisor and renew your request to file a police report.

Best wishes.
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