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What is theft by bailee?

Redmond, WA |

Someone has threaten to charge me with theft by bailee because I used her car. She said I could but now she is saying she didnt. Can she charge me with theft by bailee?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. There's no statute specifically called "theft by bailee" in Washington. But there are a number of crimes that deal with taking or using someone's car without their permission. For instance, it is a class B felony to steal someone's car. A class B felony is one with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000. And it is a class C felony to use someone's car without their permission. A class C felony is a crime punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. RCW 9A.56.075, "Taking motor vehicle without permission in the second degree," makes it a crime to take or drive away a person's car, *without their permission,* or to ride in the car when you know that it was unlawfully taken. It sounds like the issue here is whether this person actually gave you permission to use the car. Regardless, this person can't charge you with a crime. She can report the incident to the police, and the police, based on their investigation, can decide whether to request charges. If you have any documentation of this person giving you permission to use the car, like emails or texts or voicemails, make sure you save them.


  2. She can make a false criminal complaint which could lead to charges. I would suggest retaining counsel NOW.

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