How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Lucy, Esq. Your Own Question
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 29803
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Lucy, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Returning a lap top that was taken fraudulently to the store

This answer was rated:

My girlfriend had bought a laptop from Best Buy 1.5 years ago and the motherboard went bad shortly after (blue screen/shutting down in the middle of work/slowing down etc) until the laptop died completely after a little over half a year. She lost the purchase receipt and without it Best Buy wouldn't take responsibility. Fast forward 8 month, 4 days ago she made a bad mistake, trying to get a new (identical) laptop from BB without paying for it by buying it and then claiming that when she came home the box was empty, for which she eventually got a computer for free! She now regrets it and wants to take back the additional free lap top but is scared that if she will return it she would go to jail. How should she correct what she had done? Will she be penalized/arrested if she simply returned what is not hers? She has a clean record and just made a stupid mistake.



My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

The crime of theft is complete as soon as the person gets out of the store. What that means is that, if she returns it, the store still has the option of having her arrested. Will they? There's unfortunately no way to know. If they did, her action of showing up, admitting what she did and returning it could be used against her. The fact that she returned it would only be considered on sentencing. She would still have a theft on her record - which can unfortunately stop her from getting a job down the road. Most employers now do background checks and won't hire someone with shoplifting on their record.

She would have the option of trying to return it anonymously, or hiring a local criminal defense lawyer to return it for you. But she should understand the risk involved in taking it back and admitting what happened. Another option that she may want to consider is doing community service to give something back or donating the value of the laptop to a charity that helps crime victims or something like that.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your answer.


You're welcome. Have a good day.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What if we'll say that there was a practical joke played on her by a family member (remove the comp from the box unbeknownst to her) which led to her claim with BB and now that this was discovered she wants to return what is not hers? Can this fly? After all - they get what is theirs and everyone should be"happy"...

I can't promise that the store will believe her. They are entirely within their rights to have her arrested for shoplifting, and there unfortunately isn't any way to know or predict if they're likely to do that. Considering how much many stores are now cracking down on theft, it's entirely possible that they would still want to press charges.

Consider that a new computer loses value pretty much instantly. So, even if she gives it back, the store has lost the value of the new computer. They now have a used computer that they may or may not be able to sell - even if she only had it for four days. They're still losing money. So it's not really a scenario where everyone wins.

I'm not trying to say that she should or should not return it. Ultimately, that decision is entirely up to her. I'm just trying to explain that she could be charged with theft if she admits what she did, and typically, it is not a good idea for a person to admit to committing a crime without a lawyer standing next to them.
Lucy, Esq. and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you