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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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My daughter and her friend stole jewelry from the friends grandma

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My daughter and her friend stole jewelry from the friends grandma and sold it at the pawn shop. The combined amount of the jewelry that was sold is less than $1000, per the pawn tickets and they both had pawn tickets in their names.
The grandma discovered the missing jewelry and threatened both girls with filing theft charges (the girls are 19 and 20 years of age). She did file a report with the Sheriff's Office and told the girls that she would not press charges if they agreed to:
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Pay her back by September 1st
Go to college
Last week, my daughter received a certified letter from the Grandma with a list of all the jewelry that had been sold with dollar amounts that she values the jewelry at and then she divided the value between the girls. Her amount comes out to be almost $2000 with each of the girls paying almost $1000 each. No appraisals were included with the letter and no dates were listed for the first payment due date.
This morning, my daughter gets a text from the Grandma stating that if she has not received a payment by the 17th of July, she is going to go ahead and press charges.
My daughter called the Sheriff's office and told the deputy working the case about the certified letter and text messages and that she wanted the harassment and threats to stop because she had already agreed to the Grandma's verbal stipulations. The deputy told her that there was nothing she could do because there was a verbal agreement.
My questions are this:
If the Grandma gave her until September 1st and there are no specific dates in the certified letter, can she keep threatening my daughter?
Can the Grandma demand more money that was the jewelry was sold for without some type of appraisal?
Should my daughter only be responsible for what she sold or should she have to pay back half of the total sold between the 2 girls?

Brandon M. : Hello there:


Brandon M. : Thank you for your question. There were several questions there, and I will try to address them all.

Yes is a mess


Sorry about that

Brandon M. : Yes it is a mess. I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be relied upon as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. That said, the first thing that has to be recognized is that a theft victim is entitled to restitution--that is, they are entitled to recover the value of their property. However, that is the replacement value, not the sale value.
Brandon M. : Replacement value can be estimated in several ways, but the pawn shop sale value will almost never be the replacement value. Pawn shops but low and sell high--that is how they make their profit.
Brandon M. : Getting a formal appraisal is one way to get an accurate estimate of the replacement value of an item, but it can also be counter productive since the cost of the appraisal can sometimes exceed the amount in dispute.
Brandon M. : So when a victim has allowed a thief to make restitution without going through the criminal prosecution process, and where the value of the item is in dispute, there are two ways to resolve the dispute. Either the parties can reach an agreement, or the parties can argue over the value in court. The thief is clearly in a disadvantaged position because "going to court" essentially means being criminally prosecuted (unless the victim decides only to sue civilly).
Brandon M. : so you can work it out between yourselves, or you can work it out in criminal court. The victim is only entitled to recover the replacement value, but any dispute over what that value is would be determined in court.
Brandon M. : does that make sense?

Yes it does


Are both girls responsible for 50% of the total that she estimates the value at or would they each be responsible for what they sold?

Brandon M. : Well, when two thieves steal property together, they are both responsible to the victim for 100%--he victim can recover entirely from either. That said, either thief could recover one half from the other. So although each thief is responsible for the total loss, they can recover half of the loss from the other.
Brandon M. : that might have been a bit confusing. Was I clear?

Yes, I understand

Brandon M. : Well, I hope that explains things in a helpful way. Obviously, having accurate information is important.

And the threats via text messaging?


If she agreed to pay in full by September 1st and now saying she will press charges if a payment is not received by the 17th

Brandon M. : A theft victim is entitled to immediate restitution. Any deadline offered is technically I enforceable.
Brandon M. : excuse me... Technically UNenforceable.

So you are saying that she can make an agreement and then turn around and demand the money within a matter of days?

Brandon M. : in other words, the victim doesn't have to allow any deadline, so if one is offered, it generally doesn't have to be honored unless she is getting something in return. Yes, she can change her mind unless she is benefitting by the agreement, and there is no benefit to getting paid what you are already owed anyway.

I understand


I just don't like the threats through texting

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