Salisbury, MD asked in Civil Litigation and Criminal Law for Maryland

Q: if a contractor or company doesn't pay for services and rental of equipment can we file criminal case for theft of

services in Delaware, our home state.

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Theft typically requires an intent to steal and not pay as of the time the property is taken, so if equipment was obtained under a rental agreement from its lawful owner, without force and voluntarily provided to the contractor by agreement, then the owner of the equipment would have to prove that the entire transaction was a fraud from the beginning. If all you have is a failure to return equipment on time, it may simply be a civil contract matter. However, a prolonged refusal to return the equipment at some point may become theft if the contractor continues to use or retain it without permission or payment. The equipment owner will need to go to the police in the jurisdiction where the rental agreement was entered into and/or where the equipment was delivered or received. If the police determine a theft has occurred, they can have a warrant issue, which can be transmitted to any state where the contractor can be found. Otherwise, the owner should file a civil action for replevin to recover possession of the equipment in the state/jurisdiction where the equipment or contractor is located. Damages for loss of use of the equipment may be requested as well.

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