I recently discovered that my recent ex-girlfriend had been stealing money from me. She had stolen my credit card information and used it to purchase Visa Gift Cards on Amazon. This occurred during the last couple months of our relationship, totaling to around $700. After we split, she also used the card for an Uber ride (not the main concern here). She is also refusing to return a $300 AC which I never had to chance to pick up after we split. I have written confirmation from Amazon that her account was used to make the Visa Gift Card purchases and the receipt for the AC. At no time did I give her permission to use this card or any of my cards without consulting me first.

My understanding is these together constitutes a felony. But the situation is complicated. We have a child together, so my concern is that if I bring this up in small claims court, it will have a large negative impact on my son's life (because anything bad that happens to her will trickle-down to my son). She has also been stealing clothes I purchased for my son. She did this by refusing to return clothes my son was wearing when I dropped him off to her for her visitation time. Since I caught on to this, I have made sure I return him in the clothes she had him in when she returned him to me.

So, my question is, what possible consequences could she incur? Is there a common ruling for cases such as this? What's the worst that can happen?

Thank you.

  • Talk to a lawyer. If needed, Google for free legal aid in your area. – BlueDogRanch Aug 18 '20 at 15:15
  • @BlueDogRanch Thank you for your comment. I do not want to involve attorneys in this matter. I am just trying to understand her liability. – Oliver Aug 18 '20 at 15:24
  • You could just sue her in small claims court without getting a DA involved. You don't have to push the felony aspect of this, just the financial one. – Ron Beyer Aug 18 '20 at 16:59

The primary question is whether you want to think of this as a criminal matter or a civil one. If the act is actually a crime, the state prosecutor will have her arrested and charged, and she may be imprisoned or fined. Being a felony relates to how serious a crime it is. This outcome punishes her and leaves you with nothing but satisfaction that a criminal has been punished.

In order for the state to prosecute the offense, they have to be convinced that there is an actual crime, an offense against society, not a civil matter (the state does not pursue the interests of the individual). A criminal charge is not inconceivable, for example if she broke into your vault and stole your credit card number, then she literally stole your credit card info, but if you had been letting her use the card and then she used it in an unauthorized manner, that isn't stealing credit card information. The "without consulting me first" part indicates that you have a civil disagreement, not a crime.

The alternative is to sue her for what you have lost. Given the amounts, this can be handled in small claims court. You will (presumably) get something that you want, if you can make a good enough argument that she used the card in a way that you hadn't authorized.

  • Thank you for your answer. I am not seeking for the satisfaction of punishing her, I am seeking my money back. It sounds like the best route would be to sue her to small claims court and focus on the financial aspect. – Oliver Aug 18 '20 at 18:13
  • To be clear, something is not either a criminal matter or a civil matter. It is often both. You can bring a lawsuit and recover money for a violation of legal rights even if it is also a criminal offense in many cases (and indeed it is often easier to do so than to obtain a criminal conviction), while the government prosecutor decides if a criminal case will be brought in most cases. I bring lawsuits for clients seeking civil remedies for conduct alleged to constitute criminal theft on a regular basis (a cause of action called "civil theft"). Criminal action is rarely commenced in these cases. – ohwilleke Aug 19 '20 at 0:13
  • An arrest is possible, but unlikely if a civil suit for conversion or theft or civil fraud is brought. It is very rare for prosecutors to press white collar crime cases without the victim's support. – ohwilleke Aug 19 '20 at 0:16

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