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Is it a crime in New York state to get a deposit for the sale of a mobile home and not returning all of deposit?

Penfield, NY |

I was going to sell my mobile home in 2009 and ended up not selling it. I returned $500 out of $2,000 deposit and could not get in contact with purchaser because they moved. There was no forwarding address and there has been no contact since early 2010. I was threatened that they are going to police for fraud. I didn't think it was fraud if you paid some of it back. I had tried to contact them but there was no forwarding address.

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Attorney answers 3


It could be grand larceny, a felony, if the police/DA can prove you intended to steal the money. If you pay it back now I don't think you will have a problem assuming you can show you tried to return it before. The statute of limitations is 5 years by the way.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

Eric Edward Rothstein

Eric Edward Rothstein


I think you also need to explain why the money was not all returned in 2009.



I had tax problems and couldn't pay it all back. I did keep in touch with them but they moved and I had no address nor a phone number. Now they're threatening me and I can't see why that would be considered criminal if I paid them back some of it as I couldn't pay it all back, which they knew.


My guess is that this would not be considered a criminal matter but rather a civil one. Whether purchaser can find a sympathetic prosecutor to go after you or not, would be one question. Why you would want to even go there is beyond me. I would see if you can work something out with them to avoid ANY kind of court. I assume that you cannot pay them back. But you should try to arrange to pay them back in installments. I do not see any way you would be able to defeat their claim.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


By not selling your mobile home to the prospective purchaser or returning the entire balance you may be charged with grand larceny which is a felony punishable by a state prison sentence. However, in matters like this most prosecutors will generally not prosecute deeming it a civil matter.
The one thing I don't understand and could cause a prosecutor to decide to prosecute is that you returned $500 and claim you could not return the rest because you could not get in contact with the purchasers. How did you return the $500?
I suggest that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area with whom you can discuss this matter, who can review your documentation and propertly advise you.

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