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    Can I Be Charged With Theft for Failing to Return a Rental Car?

    Posted on: February 13th, 2023 by Dod Law

    Rental Car TheftRental Car Theft

    Renting a car can be extremely convenient, especially if your current car is being fixed or if you’re vacationing somewhere new. However, it’s important to be aware of all the legal necessities of renting a car. All rental agreements have distinct rules to be obeyed, or else penalty charges may apply.  Learn more about rental car theft below.

    If you neglect to return your rental vehicle? Can this lead to theft accusations or legal repercussions? If you have been charged with theft if you failed to return your rental car, the skilled lawyers at Dod Law, APC can help you with your claim.

    Can I Be Charged With Theft for Not Returning a Rental Car?

    Theft is legally defined as taking another person’s property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. It is considered a serious offense, as it not only affects the victim financially but can also cause emotional distress. Depending on the value of the item stolen, you may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. 

    So, if you fail to return a rental car, you can be charged with theft. This is because when you sign the rental agreement and take possession of the vehicle, you are agreeing to return it at the designated date and time. If you fail to do so, then you are essentially taking another person’s property without their permission. 

    However, there are some circumstances where you may not be liable for theft even if you don’t return the car on time. For example, if the rental agreement allows for an extension of the rental period, then you may not be charged with theft as long as you return it within that agreed-upon time frame. Similarly, if the rental company was at fault for failing to inform you of an impending deadline or other important information, then they could potentially be liable for any charges. 

    What Are the Consequences of Not Returning a Rental Car?

    If you intentionally fail to return a rental car, the consequences can be severe. You could face felony theft charges and even jail time. Additionally, the rental company may also pursue civil penalties, which could include additional fees and costs related to getting their property back. 

    In extreme cases, the rental company may even decide to press criminal charges against you. This could lead to an arrest and a criminal trial if you do not return the car in a timely manner. 

    How Can I Avoid Being Charged With Theft?

    The best way to avoid being charged with theft for not returning a rental car is to adhere to the terms of your rental agreement. Make sure you understand all the rules and regulations before signing and always be mindful of when your rental period ends. If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the company directly for clarification. 

    If it looks like you won’t be able to return the car on time, contact the rental company as soon as possible. They may be willing to work with you to extend your rental period or offer other alternatives. Doing so can help avoid unpleasant and costly legal consequences down the road. 

    What to Do if You’ve Already Been Charged With Theft

    If you’ve already been charged with theft for not returning a rental car, then it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help review the facts of your case and provide guidance on what steps you should take next. 

    They will also work with you to build a strong defense and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. With their help, you may be able to have the charges dropped or reduced and avoid jail time. 

    Call the Qualified Criminal Defense Team at Dod Law, APC Today

    Are you being charged with theft for not returning a rental car? If so, then it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Dod Law, APC, we have the knowledge and over 18 years of experience to help you navigate the legal system and fight your case. 

    We provide personalized attention and work tirelessly to make sure your rights are respected throughout the entire legal process. Contact us today at our San Diego office (619) 814-5110 | Vista office 760-814-6025 or submit our contact form to learn more and get started on your case.

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    Meet Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani

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