4

I visited a teetotaler relative, I'm completely aware of his personal views and stayed over in his house. A local store stocked exotic alcoholic beverages for a reasonable price and I purchased some bottles (I'm over legal drinking age). Some days later I got caught and all alcohol I had with me was taken away without my knowledge, I found empty liquor store bag later. Compensation of any kind was refused and I haven't got my belongings back. Drinks are potentially poured down the drain and it's possible he benefited financially from the crime (bottle deposit is 0,10€ for empty glass bottles and 0,15€ for cans) We have talked about the event, the relative believes he has "full rights" to do so.
Does the owner of the house have authority to govern what (legal) items I'm allowed to carry with me?

  • Did he confiscate it for good, or just until you left? – cpast Aug 19 '16 at 18:58
  • 2
    I don't think it matters: the owner has the right to evict you, or make your continued stay there contingent on giving up the beverage either permanently or temporarily. The question is whether the visitor in fact surrendered the alcohol voluntarily, or was it actually taken by force, and that is not clear. "Being taken away" can mean a lot of things, on both sides of the "legal authority" line. – user6726 Aug 19 '16 at 19:53
  • Were you carrying it, or did the homeowner throw out something they didn't want and found that you had stored in a room in the house? – user662852 Aug 19 '16 at 20:53
  • 1
    Were you of age to purchase alcohol? – Viktor Aug 19 '16 at 22:39
  • 1
    @Viktor Yes I was. – user8823 Aug 20 '16 at 6:49
4

There is no legal theory of which I'm aware which would allow a host to confiscate a guest's property without consent and consideration. Even if the host intends to return the property and both parties know this, the host still can't keep it even temporarily after the owner demands its return. File a police report, press charges and sue for damages.

Take Indiana as a perhaps representative example of what you could expect in the US. See http://www.myindianadefenselawyer.com/criminal-charges/theft-shoplifting/ . Theft is knowingly depriving a person of their property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Conversion is knowingly depriving a person of their property without an intent to permanently deprive them of it. Both are crimes, though the former is a felony and the latter is a misdemeanor.

  • 1
    May I evict your chattel from my property (perhaps down the drain) if you are not present to remove it, and you're not paying rent to create a leasehold? – user662852 Aug 19 '16 at 21:17
  • 1
    @user662852 Good question - honestly, I don't know. I do know that somebody's personal property being on property you possess doesn't give you an automatic right to dispose of it however you want. Examples abound. I'm not sure pouring an alcoholic beverage down the drain would be reasonably understood as eviction - as far as liquid beverages are concerned this is more like intentional destruction. I mean, blowing up a tenant with a stick of dynamite might remove the tenant from your property to your satisfaction, but it goes beyond mere eviction. – Patrick87 Aug 19 '16 at 21:23
  • @Patrick87: Since the question talks about a "relative", OP might not actually want to press charges right away. Otherwise - good answer. – sleske Aug 22 '16 at 10:04
  • 2
    @user662852: I don't think it matters OP does not pay rent. OP was (presumably) invited to stay by the relative, thus there was an implicit permission for OP to stay in some room, and to keep personal objects in that room. That should be enough to preclude randomly throwing out these objects. – sleske Aug 22 '16 at 10:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy