Trespass to Chattel Defenses
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What Is Trespass to Chattel?
Trespass to chattel is the intentional and wrongful interference of another individual’s personal property. Chattel refers to personal property, such as a book, a laptop, or jewelry. It does not refer to real property.
What If the Plaintiff Gave the Property to Me?
If the plaintiff gave the defendant permission to take or use the chattel, then the plaintiff has consented to the defendant’s interference with the chattel and the defendant can use this as a defense. A plaintiff can give consent via words or actions. However, a defendant cannot use the consent defense when:
- The consent given was based on fraud
- The plaintiff is too young to give consent
- The plaintiff was intoxicated or mentally incompetent at the time of giving consent
What If I Used the Chattel to Prevent Something Worse from Happening?
Private necessity is the privilege to take or use the plaintiff’s property to:
- Avoid bodily harm or death of the defendant or someone else
- Protect the property from destruction or injury
Public necessity permits a person to take or use the plaintiff’s property to prevent something horrible from happening to the general public, such as borrowing the plaintiff’s gun in order to shoot a mass murderer who is on a shooting spree.
A defendant can use either of these privileges as a defense to trespass to chattel.
Should I Contact an Attorney about Trespass to Chattel Defenses?
An accusation of trespass to chattel is a serious accusation, as it can even lead to criminal charges of theft or larceny. Contact a personal injury attorney for further assistance if you have been accused of trespass to chattel.
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Last Modified: 07-28-2015 04:09 PM PDT
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