If my mother’s name is on the title of a car, can she report it as stolen if my sister refuses to give it back to her?

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If my mother’s name is on the title of a car, can she report it as stolen if my sister refuses to give it back to her?

My sister is driving the car. My sister is late on payments.

Asked on July 10, 2013 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the car is titled to your mother, as you indicate, then she may be able to report it as stolen if your sister, after demand will not return it; much depends upon the terms of any agreement (written or oral/verbal) between your mother and sister as to its use. If, for example, the agreement was that your sister could use it as long as your mother did not want it back, but now your mother does want it back, then she'd have to return it; on the other hand, if the agreement was that no matter what, your mother would not request it back and your sister would have perpetual use of it, then your sister has not committed a crime, because based on that agreement, she has not had any criminal intent--she is doing what it was agreed she could do. Another option is for your mother to sue your sister, if your sister is not honoring the terms of an agreement (e.g. if the agreemen was that your sister would make all car payments, but she is not making them, that is a breach of contract, whether that contract is written or oral/verbal).


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