Can I Press Charges Against My Husband For Stealing From Me?

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Can I Press Charges Against My Husband For Stealing From Me?

Filing criminal charges against your husband or wife for theft of your property or money raises several complicated matters on divorce related issues and criminal law. The first thing you should know if you are thinking about taking this action is that you cannot personally file criminal charges against your partner. Several factors may have an impact on if the wronged partner can sue the other partner for theft. This is primarily determined by the country’s law.

In most cases, prosecutors decide to choose whether or not to charge a suspect. However, victims continue to play a vital role in weighing possibilities.

What Does It Mean to Charge Someone?

To press criminal charges is to file charges against someone suspected of committing a crime. These charges may allege that a person wronged someone else, damaged property, bribed an officer, or stole money. The charges describe the offenses committed, who is accused (the defendant), and the punishments for the crime.

Can You Sue Your Husband for Theft?

It is not easy to pursue criminal charges against your husband. It can intensify an already tense and contentious situation and may result in no efforts to prosecute your partner for their alleged crime. (Of course, if your husband makes threats, abuse, violence, or otherwise endangers your or your children’s safety, you should contact the police immediately.)

The theft of one spouse’s possessions by the other partner during the marriage could be one of the issues at stake in your divorce. It is common for one spouse to regard the item as their property while the other disagrees, resulting in claims of theft during the divorce.

Unlike what you may see on television or in the news, the choice to press charges does not always rest with the victim. The prosecutor makes the final decision on whether or not to file charges. However, the victim’s desire to testify and cooperate with cops and prosecutors can be critical in ensuring that justice is served.

Whether or not the theft claims have merit is determined by several factors, the most important of which is state law. The following are some of the factors that the court will consider:

Status or category of property

Individuals may believe that something is their personal property rather than the property of the other spouse, mainly if they use the item solely. However, the court is concerned with the item’s legal status. Both spouses own all earnings assets acquired through marriage funds in community property states. 

The title to the property usually determines who owns the property in standard law states. Assets acquired through gift, inheritance, or the use of premarital money kept separate from the marital property are usually considered particular property in both states.

Separation agreement

If a legal separation or divorce agreement states that the property belongs to the spouse and the other spouse takes it anyway, a complaint about theft or contempt of court may appear. On the other hand, a divorce agreement may include language requiring the release of all claims that arose during the marriage. If the victimized spouse did sign such a release, the court would not hear a claim for theft.

Interspousal Immunity

While the idea of tort interspousal immunity has mainly been abandoned across the country, it may impact a claim for theft or fraud. This legal concept arose from the belief that a married couple was only one person, usually the identity of the male. As a result, the law held that a spouse could not sue himself. Furthermore, courts speculated that husband and wife suing each other would cause discord in the marital home.

Many states, however, have primarily removed this immunity. Other provinces state in their tort statutes or common law that spouses may bring tort claims against the other spouse but must be heard in a divorce proceeding. Different courts allow such claims to be made during the marriage.

Conversion

Conversion is a civil claim that is equal to the crime of theft. This type of claim involves a person suing to recover the stolen item’s value. It is customarily necessary for the victim to demonstrate legal title to the property.

Malicious intent

Criminal charges may be brought against the offending spouse if they take the property or asset with the intent to make it their own or destroy it in bad faith. However, if the plan temporarily deprives the owner’s spouse of their property or asset, the offense may be viewed as a domestic issue rather than a criminal one.

Fraud

If one spouse made a false material representation about the asset value or income during the marital relationship or divorce, fraud claims might arise. Fraud claims are mainly based on facts and state laws.

Bringing a fraud claim during the divorce process or after the final settlement may impact several divorce-related issues. It can, for example, affect the amount of spousal support awarded. Furthermore, rather than treating it as a 50/50 ownership under community property rules, some courts may transfer the total value of the asset that has been concealed or disposed of to the victimized spouse.

Possible workarounds to protect your assets

There are some things a spouse can do to guard their assets after a divorce. For example, you can tell your partner to leave your house to prevent a piece of property or purchase from being gone. If you tell your spouse this and they still enter the property and take the asset, you may be charged with theft. Even if you did not issue such a warning, you might be able to set your partner with trespassing in certain circumstances. Inquire with a family lawyer about possible workarounds for your specific situation.

Moving forward

Even if you are only separated, speaking with a divorce attorney as soon as possible can benefit your situation. Aside from advising you on the best legal options, your lawyer can assist you in drafting a separation agreement that will safeguard the assets and properties you wish or plan on keeping.