With the numbers of people relying on online classifieds for everything from apartments to pets and cars, law offices are seeing more cases of people who have unknowingly bought stolen property. While the majority of sellers are legitimate people selling items they own, the Internet’s accessibility makes it easy for scammers to take you for a ride. If you bought a car from Craigslist and was later charged with car theft, there are legal remedies available to you.

The Arrest Process

When you were arrested, the police likely ran the vehicle’s license plate which returned a hit on a stolen car. Even if you did not mean to purchase a car that had been reported stolen, you are still, technically, driving a stolen car. There is no getting around that fact. You do, however, have the opportunity to dispute the circumstances of your arrest when you are called for your preliminary hearing.

As soon as you are arrested, it is important that you have an attorney that can argue your case. Your lawyer will be able to argue that you were unaware that the car was stolen. Be sure to bring all documents that you have including a vehicle history check that shows a clean title and any bills of sale, registration paperwork and receipts.

Recovering Your Money and Vehicle

When you were arrested, the police likely took possession of the car. If it were reported stolen to the owner’s auto insurance company, they will likely recover the car and return it to the owner. You will not be able to recover this vehicle, unfortunately. If you purchased insurance on this car, you will probably not be able to make a claim since you did not own the car in question.

The most effective remedy is often suing the seller for any money paid. This, however, can be a challenge. In these cases, the seller is often long gone by the time the buyer realizes that the car was stolen. This means that it may be almost impossible to get your money returned for the purchase. If you have a way to track the seller—you have his address or other identifying details, you should file a police report and give them as much information as you have.

If you unknowingly bought a stolen vehicle and was arrested, there are legal remedies at your disposal. Consult your attorney and learn your rights today.