Can I sue parents and their kid who stole my son's cell phone and ran up the bill even if he is facing criminal charge?

Asked over 4 years ago - Norcross, GA

A teenager stole my son's phone. We tracked the phone down and retrieved it after 3 weeks. The teen is being charged with theft and will face other criminal charges. There are 3500+ SMS texts, 500+ mins of phone calls and the phone is scratched (it was only a week old at the time of theft). His parents (father) knew about the phone as he is one of the people (with a photo) on the contact list. I have plenty of evidence, including GPS location screenshots at different times of day. I need to know if I am able to sue and what is the most amount that I can recover. I have spent at least 20-30 hours communicating/meeting with police, school and cell phone company, which resulted in lost wages. Please advise, thanks!

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Theodore Lyons Araujo

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You can definitely sue and the parents should be liable for the use. there are some barrierss when there is a crime committed because the commission of a crime usually means that the insurance company will not insure the people who committed the crime.

    If the young man pleads guilty then the facts supporting your case cannot be contested.

    When deciding if you should sue someone there are two essential requirements. First, did the person who you think violated your rights have a duty to refrain from the activity that you think would form the basis of a suit or did they have a legal duty to do something and they did not do it. It is very difficult to determine the answer to that question based on the facts you list because it will depend on State law and possibly administrative law in your State and under Federal Law.

    The second essential is where there compensable damages? Damages for which a Court can award you monetary awards or injunctive relief (order the other person to do something or stop doing something). If you have both of these elements you may sue.

    However, lawsuits take a high degree of expertise and cost money. Many clients have come to me through the years and stated that the money did not matter to them, just the principal of the issue! When I tell them how much I and other lawyers charge by the hour it becomes obvious to them that the value of the lawsuit damages is very important.

    You can seek out your lawyer referral service to seek counsel. There are agencies of the State and Federal Government you may want to contact. Talk to a lawyer before you decide to sue someone for expert legal advice!

    Good Luck!

    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.

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