What can happen if I pawned a ring that I did not know was stolen?

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What can happen if I pawned a ring that I did not know was stolen?

I pawned a ring for my girlfriend. She said it was hers but it was actually stolen from her cousin. My girlfriend admitted stealing it; I had no clue.

Asked on May 22, 2011 under Criminal Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Criminal liabilty generally depends on a criminal mens rea, or state of mind. As a general matter, if you did not know and reasonably should not have known that the ring was stolen you cannot be held criminally liable for it.

Civilly liable, though, is a different story. If you sold (or pawned) something belonging to another, even if you did not have criminal intention, the owner can usually recover the cost or value of the item from you. Thus, you may need to repay the cousin the value of the ring. Your girlfriend could also be sued for the value of it; she might also face criminal liability, since  she was the one who stole it.


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