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Civil Code Questions

Civil codes are laws that deal with the internal areas of private law. Jurisdictions that have civil codes generally have what is known as a code of civil procedure. These are rules and standards that are set up for the courts of the jurisdictions to follow. Below are a few questions regarding civil codes that have been answered by Experts.

What is the civil code section for trespass to chattel when a landlord steals a vehicle? My landlord let me keep an untagged vehicle in my drive and he later scrapped it. I couldn't prove this until years later when I noticed the wheels on my landlord's vehicle. What are my legal options?

The situation that you have described would be conversion, not trespass to chattel. Conversion is the intentional interference with another person's personal property which forces the sale of the property for a fair market value, which awards the value of the property as damages to the plaintiff.

You have 3 years from the incident to place a claim of conversion as stated under Code Civ. Proc. §338(c). However, if the event occurred over 3 years ago, you probably won't be able to recover from the convertor.

In your situation, the act could also be considered criminal theft. If you can prove that the vehicle was yours and the landlord now has the wheels from the vehicle on his personal vehicle, you could file a complaint with the local sheriff department. You could also try to get the landlord to admit that he sold the vehicle in front of a witness. If the landlord is arrested for the act, you will have a chance of gaining criminal restitution for the vehicle.

The limitation on prosecution for theft crimes vary from 1-6 years, depending on the type of crime (misdemeanor or felony) as well as if there was fraud involved with the theft.

CA Civil Code 841 states that neighbors must share the cost and maintenance of a shared fence. My neighbor insists that my overgrown trees caused the fence to be pushed over - not a bad storm. I disagree. The fence is at least 20 years old and the posts were rotting. Does the neighbor still have to pay for 1/2 of the fence replacement? I have paid for my part, but they refuses to pay their share.

The maintenance of the fence falls on both owners who share the fence. However, if one owner's acts cause the damage to the fence, that owner would then be liable for any damages done to the fence and would be responsible for the repair of the other owners share of the fence.

The IRS has determined that residential property has a life span of 27.5 years. Because most structures will depreciate over time, more than likely, a judge would deduct the age of the fence and divide that number by 27.5 to figure the liability.

In order to show negligence, you would have to show these elements: (1) duty of reasonable care; (2) breach of duty; (3) actual cause; (4) reasonably foreseeable cause; (5) damages. Your neighbor will have a hard time trying to prove that you are negligent and that the negligence caused the fence damage. Usually, in a small claims court, the judge will probably split the cost of the fence repairs in half, claiming that both owners are responsible for the repairs per Civil Code 841, and place judgment against both parties to ensure both sides pay.

I've came to a mutual settlement amount with other party. I'm to pay them a certain sum amount. In the release, it states all parties expressly waive all rights under section 1542 of the California Civil Code. Is this a good thing or bad?

This is how it is explained per Section 1542. Certain Claims Not Affected by General Release. A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him must have materially affected his settlement with the debtor.

Basically, what this means is that the party wouldn't be released from any future claims if something was to arise that you knew nothing about which would affect the outcome.

So when you waive this, you are saying that you will release your right to future claims or actions and that you are accepting the settlement as final. This may be a bad idea, but it will depend on why you have decided on the settlement to begin with. However, in the event of a fraudulent act or perjury, you would still be able to bring action against the other party at a later time.

Learning about civil codes before you need them can be a bonus to anyone. There is nothing more frustrating that finding out too late that you cannot do something because of a civil code. Civil codes can affect you in most aspects of life and business. From building a home to playing music in your apartment to starting a business, civil codes are present. To learn more about civil codes you should ask an Expert who can clarify any doubts and answer all of your questions.
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