Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Virginia

Last night my sister was arrested due to a $2,000 debt owed to a car dealership in Virginia. They repossessed the vehicle and arrested her on grand larceny charges and possibly auto theft? I know the grand larceny charge is correct but I'm not 100% sure about the other charge. She traded a vehicle and owed the dealership just over $2,000 which was the difference in value of the two vehicles. She obviously did not pay and completely ignored calls and communication with the dealership as well as requests to return the vehicle for approximately one month. Last night three police officers showed up at her door asked her to remove her belongings from the vehicle so they could repossess it, but they also arrested her. She was released on a non-refundable $200 bond. Her arraignment is set for Jan. 27th. (this is her first legal offense).

My questions are these - 1.) Why did they arrest her rather than just repossessing the vehicle?; 2.) Is there mandatory jail time for this offense in Virginia or does this being her first offense make a difference?; 3.) If jail time isn't mandatory, what are the possible punishments for her offense?

Any advice would be appreciated. I'm just trying to ascertain what to expect from all this. Thanks in advance.

Asked on 1/16/10, 4:25 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Smallenberg Metropolitan Law Center, PLC

One cannot be arrested in Virginia for non-payment of a debt to a private individual or company. Most likely she was arrested for a violation of 18.2-115 which makes it larceny to hide or fail to disclose the location of property that is subject to a lien. If the property is worth more than $200, it is a felony.

I don't see how someone can be convicted under this statute if the only action was to ignore phone calls and/or to not take affirmative actions to return the vehicle.

Robert H. Smallenberg

(804) 368-7612

[email protected]

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Answered on 1/25/10, 4:22 pm

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