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In some legal trouble for a car I don't have, what can I do?

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I made some very stupid decisions in my past, so please keep this in mind while reading. I bought a car last year through Car Mart. I had many problems with this car (couldn't drive it in the rain due to a bent in back axle, brakes were almost shot, etc). In April of last year, I tried to surrender the car because I had lost my job. I was told by the manager that if I surrendered it, I'd be taken to court and sued for the amount of money I owed. I got scared and agreed to try to work out some sort of payment plan. A month went by. I was driving home on the highway. It barely started to rain and the car swerved out of control, I did a complete 360 in the middle of the highway and I hit the median. I pulled over to the side of the highway, got all of my stuff out of the car and walked to a gas station to call a friend to come get me. I left the car there and didn't touch it at all. Two months later, I moved an hour away. Car Mart followed me and showed up at my brother's house asking me where the car was. I told them that I had left it where I left it and hadn't messed with it since. I never touched the GPS or anything. I gave them the keys and that was the end of it. I just got a call today saying that they were giving me a felony charge for harboring a vehicle, even though I'm just as clueless as them when it comes to its whereabouts. It's been a year and I've worked very hard to get back on my feet after being in a bad relationship and losing literally everything I had. I'm terrified I'm going to lose everything again. I understand that I didn't handle things the right way, but I don't know what I can do to make it right. If anyone has any advice about what I can do, please let me know.

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You MUST go to a legal aid society and get some legal advice/representation.

 

A private company CANNOT lay a "felony charge" against you.

 

You should not have left the car . . . but you also have somewhat of a defense because the car was not safe to drive.   My guess is that it was a "salvage title," i.e., the car had been deemed a total loss after an accident, but some repair shop resurrected it, anyway.   But the car was not fully fixed.

 

You also tried to give the car back--which is a plus for you.

 

Don't pay these a-holes a penny without talking to a lawyer first.   And do NOT attempt to deal with this car seller on your own!

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The car was taken from where I had left it, but I assumed that Car Mart had picked it up. Since I was behind on my payments, I was anticipating them to repo it any day. I still have the title for it just in case that may come in handy, but I doubt it will. The car still had a temp tag on it, which I took off, because the tag had my information on it and I didn't want someone getting my info without my consent. I no longer have it, but the car still had Car Mart's unexpired tag on underneath it and could've easily been traced and given back to them. The GPS was still good on it, and when they showed up at my brother's house, they said the last place it pinged was on the side of the highway. I'm terrified that someone picked it up and scrapped it, and because of that they think I'm hiding it. I live on my own now in an apartment and my mom just had to help me purchase another car, which I do have proof of purchase for, and my apartments don't have any type of enclosed garages for me to hide the car, nor do I have anyone that would hide it for me. The issue is I have no way of proving this in a court.

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You will need a lawyer.   Your best defense is most likely to claim that you walked away from a death trap--the car that they sold you.   You can say that you were traumatized by the accident.

 

Car mart had a duty to sell you a serviceable and safe car.   As a "bailee," you had a responsibility to look after it.   These would be competing claims in a court of law.

 

There is, in most jurisdictions, a thing known as a "warranty of merchantability."   In other words, the product must be adequate for the purpose for which it was sold, regardless of any warranty made or not made by the seller.   If you are sold a lemon, and I think you were, then the seller violated the warranty of merchantability.   If you can get the VIN number, it will most likely show that the car was salvaged from an accident in which it was "totaled."  

 

So, they track their buyers via GPS?   Wouldn't have such an arrangement.   I understand some dealers even have a kill switch installed to make the engine not start if the buyer falls behind on payments.   Imagine getting stalled in a bad part of town!   

 

Get in touch with your legal aid society.  

 

Chances are, too, that the company recovered the car, fixed it up a little, and resold it.   Five gets you one that is what happened!

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