Can I Go to Jail for Hiding My Car from the Repo Man?
This is common question: should I hide my car from the repo agent? Should I trade vehicles with a friend so my lender can't find it? Should I hide my car in a parked garage? Can I do these things? Will I go to jail? Will I get in trouble? There are legal rights you have in connection with your vehicle and Wisconsin repossession laws. Understanding your legal right to stop a repossession is key.
If you are asking yourself these questions, no, you're not going crazy. These are common questions asked by consumers facing a potential repossession. Many consumers are also concerned about going to jail or facing other criminal charges for hiding their own vehicle. A review of the law surrounding vehicles is helpful in answering these questions, so here's some nuts-and-bolts advice. We also offer free online scheduling for appointments.
Is it Legal to Hide my Vehicle?
The first question to ask is this: has your lender taken you to court and received a “writ of replevin?” If so, call for a free consultation as there are many different situations that can occur – and you do not want to be held in contempt of court. You can go to jail for contempt of court (it's rare and difficult, but it's possible), and you really don't want that to happen.
Otherwise, the general rule is that it is not illegal to “hide” your vehicle from the repo man. The Wisconsin Consumer Act governs most vehicle repossessions in Wisconsin and the law is silent as it relates to “hiding” your vehicle from a repossession agent.
Consequences to Hiding your Vehicle
There are consequences to hiding your vehicle from a repossession agent. First, your vehicle is still at risk of repossession. While you may have bought a day (or more) of time, you never know when your vehicle may be taken. Consumers often tell us that they have a plan to prevent their vehicle from being taken – they even tell us their lender doesn't know where they live. But lenders and their repossession agents use a number of different technology tools to track where people live, drive, or even grocery shop. Trust us – people often have their vehicles repossessed even when they've tried to hide the vehicle. Being suddenly stranded at work (or the doctors office) because of a sudden repo actually happens all the time; because repo men can be good a tracking you down.
Secondly, the loan balance continues to increase while you have it hidden. Each day that loan balance increases and makes it more difficult to get back on track. There are a number of different strategies that can be employed on dealing with a past due loan. Call us for a free consultation and we'll talk through some ideas.
Should I Hide my Car to Stop a Repo?
We always advise against “hiding” your car to prevent a repossession. After all, just because it may be legal doesn't mean it's a good short (or long) term solution. Your vehicle is still at risk of being taken – and probably taken when you least suspect it, and you could end up being stranded in the middle of a grocery store parking lot. Trust us when we say this happens more often than people realize. Let's talk about a longer term strategy so this doesn't happen. You have important repossession rights, and it is crucial you understand and legally exercise those rights.
Will I go to Jail If I Hide my Car From the Repo Man?
If your lender has received a court order compelling you to turn over the vehicle, then yes, you could go to jail if you disobey the court (often called “contempt of court”). But these situations are not common – and your lender would have sued you before this can occur (read here, about how to check the court records for your name).
Sometimes repossession agents involve the police in an effort to scare and intimidate a consumer into giving up their vehicle. If the police are present during your repossession, your rights may have been violated. Especially if you were threatened with arrest for protesting the repossession. Call for a free consultation if this has occurred to you.
Advantages to Hiding my Car
Some consumers tell us they just need their vehicle for another day or so; and that's why they're trying to hide it from their lender and the repo man. We certainly empathize with the need for a vehicle, and encourage you to call us for a free consultation to learn about your consumer rights.
Should I Bother Calling for a Consultation?
Maybe you're overwhelmed by the stress of losing your vehicle - or maybe you're embarrassed it was repossessed. Some people feel like talking to a lawyer is intimidating - or that they'll get stuck with a large bill. As you can see from the reviews of other people that received a free consultation (or were a client), Attorney DeLadurantey is always welcome to provide free consultations and is easy to talk with. Pick up the phone and make sure your rights are being protected.
What to Expect During a Free Consultation
- We're easy to talk to. And don't take our word for it, check out our reviews here
- We'll discuss the status of your vehicle loan, letters or notices you've received in the mail
- And if your vehicle has been repossessed already, we'll talk about your potential rights and options to get it back
We provide representation in automobile and vehicle repossessions cases in Wisconsin, including Racine, Kenosha, Green Bay, Appleton, the Fox Valley, Milwaukee, West Allis, Waukesha, Walworth County, Dane County, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, Ashland, and anywhere in-between.