You might think that finding money on the street is the luckiest thing that can happen to you. However, it might not be for the best. If you find money on the street and don’t do the right thing, then you could end up with theft or larceny charges. Find out why you need to do to avoid criminal charges when you find money on the street.
Can you keep money that you find on the street?
As with much of the law, understanding the laws that involve finding money is not easy. Whether you can keep the money that you find is dependent on your situation. For example, you might find a dollar bill on the street. If you do, then you do not have to report the money. Although the law still requires that you try to find the owner of the money, police don’t enforce it. It would take too much time and effort to enforce the law over such a trivial amount of money. You only need to give back such a small sum of money if the owner asks if you found it. Then, you need to be honest and answer the question truthfully.
If you find any significant sum of money, then you might be able to keep it. However, there are a few things that you need to do first. If you don’t follow the right procedure, then you could face theft charges. Although the laws vary by state, most states require you to go through the following process before you can keep any money that you find:
1. Try to identify the owner
First, you need to look for the owner. If you find money in a wallet, then identification is simple. You need to look at any identification in the wallet and try to contact the owner. With the internet, it is easy to find someone even with limited information. When you do get in touch with the owner, let them know that you found their wallet and work out a way to return it.
In some cases, identification of the money’s owner is a little more difficult. If the money is found in an envelope with no identifying marks, then you might not know where to start. However, this doesn’t mean you can keep the money. You still need to attempt to find the owner. This could mean looking for a receipt in the envelope or searching for other clues. If you cannot find any signs of the owner’s name or contact information, then you need to contact the police.
2. Go to the police
If you can’t identify the owner, then it’s time to take the money to the police. This does not mean that you don’t get to keep the money. If the police cannot find the owner, then you get the money after a set period of time. No matter where you live, you will get the money back as long as the owner does not claim it.
The Consequences of Keeping Money
The police do not allow you to keep money that you find on the street because it would be an easy defense for criminals. If a criminal stole money from a home, he could say that he found the money. As a result, the criminal could get off for his crime without consequences.
So, you can face theft charges for finding money and keeping it. Whether you find $20 or $1,000, you could face charges of theft. The type of charges you face and the penalty you experience depend on your state. In some situations, you could get fines or even jail time for your theft conviction.
Protecting Yourself From Theft
If you find a large sum of money, then the stakes are high. Failing to take the rights steps could result in theft charges. To protect yourself, you should seek the counsel of a lawyer. With the advice of a lawyer, you can be sure to take the steps necessary to keep the money.
When it comes to finding money, one wrong move can have serious consequences. There are a few things that can go wrong. First, you can fail to take the proper action. If so, you could face theft charges. In that case, you need the help of a lawyer to fight those charges. Another consequence is the forfeiture of the money. If you find the money in front of a store and return it to a store employee, then you could end up losing the money. There is no guarantee that the employee will do the right thing and return the money. If you speak to a lawyer, he will tell you to give the money to the police instead. And when you do, he can make sure that they only keep the money for the appropriate time and return it if the owner never claims it.