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Ask J.Hazelbaker Your Own Question
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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I was doing a consulting job and in the middle of the job,

Resolved Question:

I was doing a consulting job and in the middle of the job, the company took my original contract, scratched out the payment terms, rewrote them and demanded I sign the revised contract. I took the contract home to review and decided not to sign based on the new terms. Now they are threatening file criminal charges saying that I stole the contract! Can they do this?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  J.Hazelbaker replied 7 years ago.
That's absurd.

Once a contract is signed, it is legally enforceable. One party cannot unilaterally change it, or demand that it be changed. Whether it is changed or not requires agreement by all the parties who signed it. If there is no agreement, then the original contract controls and you would have a legal claim of breach of contract. You could sue to enforce the contract or collect money damages for the breach.

Moreover, you can steal your own contract. it's not a crime, particularly not in the scenario you described. They can try to file charges, but the authorities are simply going to laugh them out of the building.

Please let me know, if you have follow-up questions.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you . I filed in small claims court to collect the money that they didn't pay me under the terms of the original contract. That is when they threatened to file criminal charges against me for "stealing" the contract. Personally, I think that they were too stupid to copy the contract before they changed it and gave it back to me and now have nothing to refer to when they have to meet me in small claims court.
Expert:  J.Hazelbaker replied 7 years ago.
That sounds logical. Based on your description, they don't appear to have a leg to stand on and it should be a very straightforward breach of contract case. Even if they did have the altered contract, it would not be helpful to them, unless it was changed is such a way that you could not tell the original from the altered.
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