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Can i go to jail for hiding my car from the repo man in Wisconsin?

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2008-04-06 16:03:50

When you finance or lease a vehicle, your creditor holds

important rights on the vehicle until you've made the last loan

payment or fully paid off your lease obligation. These rights are

established by the signed contract and by state law. If your

payments are late or you default on your contract in any way, your

creditor may have the right to repossess your car. Talking with

Your Creditor

It is easier to try to prevent a vehicle repossession from

taking place than to dispute it afterward. Contact your creditor

when you realize you'll be late with a payment. Many creditors will

work with you if they believe you'll be able to pay soon, even if

slightly late. Sometimes you may be able to negotiate a delay in

your payment or a revised schedule of payments. If you reach an

agreement to modify your original contract, get it in writing to

avoid questions later. Still, your creditor may refuse to accept

late payments or make other changes in your contract and may demand

that you return the car. By voluntarily agreeing to a repossession,

you may reduce your creditor's expenses, which you would be

responsible for paying. Remember that even if you return the car

voluntarily, you're responsible for paying any deficiency on your

credit or lease contract, and your creditor still may report the

late payments and/or repossession on your credit report. Seizing

the Car

In many states, your creditor has legal authority to seize your

vehicle as soon as you default on your loan or lease. Because state

laws differ, read your contract to find out what constitutes a

"default." In most states, failing to make a payment on time or to

meet your other contractual responsibilities are considered

defaults. In some states, creditors are allowed on your property to

seize your car without letting you know in advance. But creditors

aren't usually allowed to "breach the peace" in connection with

repossession. In some states, removing your car from a closed

garage without your permission may constitute a breach of the

peace. Creditors who breach the peace in seizing your car may have

to pay you if they harm you or your property. A creditor usually

can't keep or sell any personal property found inside. State laws

also may require your creditor to use reasonable care to prevent

others from removing your property from the repossessed car. If you

find that your creditor can't account for articles left in your

car, talk to an attorney about whether your state offers a right to

compensation. Selling the Car

Once your creditor has repossessed your car, they may decide to

sell it in either a public or private sale. In some states, your

creditor must let you know what will happen to the car. For

example, if a creditor chooses to sell the car at public auction,

state law may require that the creditor tells you the date of the

sale so that you can attend and participate in the bidding. If the

vehicle is to be sold privately, you may have a right to know the

date it will be sold. In either of these circumstances, you may be

entitled to buy back the vehicle by paying the full amount you owe,

plus any expenses connected with its repossession (such as storage

and preparation for sale). In some states, the law allows you to

reinstate your contract by paying the amount you owe, as well as

repossession and related expenses (such as attorney fees). If you

reclaim your car, you must make your payments on time and meet the

terms of your reinstated or renegotiated contract to avoid another

repossession. The creditor must sell a repossessed car in a

"commercially reasonable manner" - according to standard custom in

a particular business or an established market. The sale price

might not be the highest possible price - or even what you may

consider a good price. But a sale price far below fair market value

may indicate that the sale was not commercially reasonable. Paying

the Deficiency

A deficiency is any amount you still owe on your contract after

your creditor sells the vehicle and applies the amount received to

your unpaid obligation. For example, if you owe $2,500 on the car

and your creditor sells the car for $1,500, the deficiency is

$1,000 plus any other fees you owe under the contract, such as

those related to the repossession and early termination of your

lease or early payoff of your financing. In most states, a creditor

who has followed the proper procedures for repossession and sale is

allowed to sue you for a deficiency judgment to collect the

remaining amount owed on your credit or lease contract. Depending

on your state's law and other factors, if you are sued for a

deficiency judgment, you should be notified of the date of the

court hearing. This may be your only opportunity to present any

legal defense. If your creditor breached the peace when seizing the

vehicle or failed to sell the car in a commercially reasonable

manner, you may have a legal defense against a deficiency judgment.

An attorney will be able to tell you whether you have grounds to

contest a deficiency judgment.

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