Anaheim, CA asked in Criminal Law, Small Claims and White Collar Crime for Arizona

Q: How can I prove ownership of the vehicle when it's titled in someone else's name?

I bought a vehicle in June 2021, received an open title & written bill of sale, but never registered it in my name. Fast forward to beginning of Nov, my husband asked a family friend to borrow $100 & told them he could pay back $10/day, but warned the payments would be sporadic. The friend said yes, but wanted something to hold as calateral. Unfortunately, my husband thought it was wise to offer up my open title to my car. In his defense, these people have been family friends for decades & he never had reason not to trust them. To date, my husband has paid back $40 of the $100. A week ago, my husband gets a call from the family friend's son stating he took the title to the DMV, registered/licensed it in his name & said he will not sign over the title until he is paid the full $100 borrowed plus the DMV fees & notary fees or he'll call the police & report the car stolen. Is my bill of sale & conversation on Facebook from the original seller in June enough to get my car title back?

1 Lawyer Answer
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: Probably, but you will likely have to go to small claims court to do so. You would need to file a small claims court case for the current market value of the vehicle (because you cannot seek injunctive relief in justice court - "getting your title back" is injunctive relief). If you win your case, the two of you could agree that if he signs the title back over to you, you would file a satisfaction of judgment in the case.

Before you do ANY of that, however, you need to pay back the $60 and demand return of the title, signed over to you. You did not advise or force them to take the title to DMV and pay those fees. You are not responsible for those costs. If they refuse to sign the title over to you, then your next step is to go to court.

I sincerely hope you can prove you have paid back the $40. If not, you may have to pay them back $140 in order to ensure you can provide evidence in court that you have repaid the debt.

1 user found this answer helpful

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