Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

Are you responsible for a persons property if left with you during there arrest?

My son was with a friend of his and she was arrested for outstanding warrants, this was over a month ago. She left all her belongings in the vehicle and released it to my son... the problem is her vehicle and belongings was given to another person so that they could return the girls family.

Now the family is contacting me saying that a cell phone is missing and they have heard rumors of my son having the phone in his possession, which he does not , but they are demanding that I reimburse them for the phone... amount is over $350.00 ... the girl is serving a sentence now of 3.5 years, so the family wants me to pay them cash.. My question is can I not just purchase another replacement phone and give to them and have them sign documentation of reciept, and do you feel we are even responsilbe for this ?

Asked on 6/19/09, 12:39 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Brian Dinday Law Offices of Brian R. Dinday

Re: Are you responsible for a persons property if left with you during there arrest?

First of all, I don't know why they are trying to extort this money from YOU. YOU did not lose anyone's phone. I also don't see why your son should pay for it either, if he does not have it and never did. We only have the prisoner's assertion/assumption that her phone was in the car.

However, offering to buy one to replace it sounds much like an admission that your son DID have it, or at least that is how these people are going to see it now. Personally, I would not pay a nickel to such extortion attempts if there were no truth to the accusation.

If you pay, get ready for the next thing they "discover" missing from the car. My advice is to take yourself out of the picture. You have no responsibility no matter what the facts are. Assuming your son is an adult, advise him, but he needs to fight his own battles if you ever expect him to grow up. Maybe facing consequences of bad decisions (like who he hangs out with) will teach him better judgment. Mommy and daddy bailing him out sure won't.

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Answered on 6/19/09, 1:25 pm

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