Need to find out what misunderstanding with friend will mean for my parents
March 20, 2007 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Generally in most states, especially Oregon, if one person claims another has "personal property," do the police deal with this in an immediate sense or is this a case for small claims?

More specifically, I have a friend who sold me some music equipment, and is now claiming he will contact the police and that I stole it. I don't know what to do or what will happen as there was no recording of anything, other than a few vague e mails, and a few witnesses to both accounts. Usually a frivolous personal problem, but the x-friend has found my parents' information through the family web site. Please help! (I can't just give the equipment back as it's sold. ) I want to know that the police won't come knocking on my parents' door or something crazy.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get yourself a lawyer.

Talk to your parents. Let them know some screw up is interfering with your life and that he may be in touch with them.

What is your ex-friend trying to achieve here? You haven't said what he wants. Does he want his money back, in which case this appears to be some kind of fraud/blackmail case. Or is he just being malicious and trying to get you into legal trouble? This could lead to a number of crimes depending on how far he goes, should he actually contact the police. Whether his current threats break a law and if so, which, your lawyer will be able to tell you.

It doesn't really sound like we have the full story here though.
posted by biffa at 10:33 AM on March 20, 2007

You don't have any proof that you bought it, but neither does he have proof that you stole it. The police will laugh in his face. Even if they took him seriously (they won't), you don't even have the stuff anymore. He could sue you a la Judge Judy, but I think we know how she tends to react to people like him.

If he tries to harass your parents, make sure they document everything.
posted by hermitosis at 10:34 AM on March 20, 2007

IANAL. I agree with biffa that there's some info missing here but I'm assuming you're a minor living with your parents.

Call his bluff. Tell your ex-friend to fuck off and to go to the police if he wants. Barring anything you haven't said, it's his word against yours, which means the police will probably politely show him the door. Suing you would also require some more substantial proof, and probably cost him more than the value of the equipment.
posted by mkultra at 10:39 AM on March 20, 2007

Are you an adult? Living separately from your parents? Then your parents have nothing to fear from claims that you stole anything, except maybe the embarrassment of a cop coming by to ask where you are.

If this guy is threatening to call the cops on you alleging that you are a thief, you need to have your ducks in a row in case you are confronted by police about the matter. Some may advocate "lawyering up" right away, and you should think very hard about whether you want to cooperate with the (still very theoretical) investigation or even concede you ever took possession of the disputed items.

That said, you should call your local county courthouse and find out if you happen to have any unrelated warrants open. You might be surprised - any unpaid parking or speeding tickets, any discrepancies in child support, just about anything could concievably generate a warrant for your arrest. If you are looking forward to speaking with the police, it would behoove you to ensure that this conversation won't end with your arrest regardless of this theft nonsense.

If the cops are dealing with a he-said/he-said situation where an unproven allegation has been made, much will depend on intangibles like the individual cop's inclination and whether you have been drinking/using when they talk to you. Again, until this is resolved, greet every day with the assumption that you will be questioned by a cop today, and equip yourself accordingly. This means not holding drugs or other contraband on your person, in your car, or in plain view in your dwelling. The cops can't search your house without a warrant UNLESS THEY GET PERMISSION FROM YOUR LANDLORD or room-mate, so don't assume you're safe hiding your pot in the toilet tank if you rent.

If you decide to go the route of the honest cooperative dude falsely accused and cooperate, be sure to have your story straight and ANY supporting evidence at hand, including names and addresses and phone numbers of those backing your version of the transaction.

Also, keep in mind that threats are usually empty. If this guy is the sort to pull this kind of BS, he probably is not really eager to garner Police attention himself.

If you ARE a minor, living with your parents, you really need to get them on board and let them know what's going on.

As usual, IANAL. Good luck.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

If your adversary kept records of the serials of the equipment, and the current owner of the equipment is a music store in town, and your adversary does the legwork to get said store to ID the equipment, then he might be able to get some traction re: reporting theft. Short of that, it's an untestable claim. My impression is that cops don't like to make housecalls just to twist their feet in the dirt and say "so this guy? He said this other guy? Stole some stuff, I guess?"

Make your folks aware of the situation and have them report any harassment worth reporting. Beyond that, this is sounds like a case for mutual Fuck Yous, full stop.
posted by cortex at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2007

A pertinent piece of information is the rough dollar value of the equipment. If it's under $500 bucks, the he-said/you-said aspect of seems unlikely to pique the interest of the local police. If it is $5,000, that might change things.

BigLankyBastard makes a good suggestion about getting/keeping your ducks in a row in anticipation of a friendly visit from the local cops. But he's not a lawyer, as he states, so please take his advice about your Fourth Amendment rights accordingly, because it pains me to see non-lawyers giving incorrect legal information out on the internets.

I am a lawyer, but as always, I am not your lawyer.
posted by ambrosia at 11:28 AM on March 20, 2007

FWIW, I think BigLankyBastard's suggestions regarding all the prep work is exactly the kind of panicked reaction your dickish ex-friend wants you to have. Don't give him the satisfaction.
posted by mkultra at 11:39 AM on March 20, 2007

Vague emails and witnesses are better evidence than what he's got against you.
posted by rhizome at 12:36 PM on March 20, 2007

mkultura: That's terrible advice. Who knows what the dickish ex-friend's motivations are? I'm sure the guy would get a great deal more satisfaction from seeing OP arrested than not arrested because he had his ducks in a row.
posted by Void_Ptr at 12:44 PM on March 20, 2007

mkultra. Sorry. Clicked too soon.
posted by Void_Ptr at 12:45 PM on March 20, 2007

I'm sure the guy would get a great deal more satisfaction from seeing OP arrested than not arrested because he had his ducks in a row.

Arrested for what? Theft? Please. The police don't just go arrest someone because some jackass said they stole something.

Ever wonder why lawyers do so well in America? Because people freak out and overreact over stupid crap like this instead of using common sense.
posted by mkultra at 1:05 PM on March 20, 2007

« Older How to help a friend with mental health problems   |   Stupid database! Be more connecty! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.