Breach of Peace Repossessions
Breach of the peace repossessions are more common than you probably realize. A repo company breaches the peace and violates the law whenever the car repossession goes beyond what is legally permitted. In essence, any act that disturbs the peace (or even threatens to) or violates an individual’s rights during the vehicle repossession can be considered a breach of peace.
Let’s delve a little into the law on auto breach of peace repossessions generally, including by discussing various examples of acts that could be deemed breaches of the peace and by highlighting the importance of seeking legal assistance from an illegal repossession attorney if you become a victim of a breach of peace repossession.
Rights of Debtors, Secured Parties and Repossession Companies
When it comes to vehicle repossession, the law recognizes the rights and protections of all interested parties, including debtors, secured parties like lenders and creditors, and even repossession companies. Although creditors have the right to repossess a vehicle for many different reasons including non-payment or even late payments, they and their repo agents must adhere to certain state laws and other legal guidelines when doing so.
Borrowers, on the other hand, have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Uniform Commercial Code and/or repossession state law that safeguard them from abusive or illegal repossession practices. Remember, under the law you have the right to a peaceful repossession and to be treated with respect throughout the process, even if your car payments are late.
Legal Consequences for Repossession Companies and Repossession Agents
Repossession companies using breach of the peace repossession tactics to take your vehicle face serious legal consequences. They can be held liable for damages in civil lawsuits, including statutory damages under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Uniform Commercial Code and/or state law, compensation for any actual harm caused, emotional distress, and even punitive damages in severe cases. Furthermore, their conduct may result in criminal charges and the revocation of their license to operate where their repossession agents commit serious violations.
What Constitutes a Violation? Examples of Acts Deemed Breach of the Peace Repossessions
A breach of peace repossession involves actions that go beyond what is legally permitted. Examples include where the repo man:
- injures someone during the repossession,
- uses unlawful force like lifting an occupied vehicle,
- intimidates or threatens an individual,
- violates someone’s property rights,
- or causes property damage or damage to the vehicle.
Taking the Vehicle Over Protest: Violating the Boundaries of Consent
It’s generally considered a breach of the peace any time the repo man takes possession of a vehicle despite the debtor’s explicit protests or objections (for example, “don’t take my car”). This could involve the repo man ignoring the debtor’s pleas or using intimidation tactics to coerce compliance.
Owner Injured During Repossession: Unlawful Use of Force
It’s a breach of peace anytime a repo man causes harm or injury to the debtor during the repossession process. Using excessive force, physical aggression, or intentionally causing bodily harm is not only illegal but also violates the debtor’s basic rights to safety and well-being. This often occurs where the repo man physically removes the debtor from the vehicle or otherwise uses force during the car repossession process.
Repo Man Lifting Occupied Vehicle: Endangering Occupants’ Safety
Attempting to repossess a vehicle while it is occupied by individuals or parties, such as family members or passengers, puts their safety at risk. Lifting or towing an occupied vehicle without the occupants’ consent is a clear breach of the peace, as it threatens their well-being and violates their right to personal security.
Repo Man Threatening the Owner: Intimidation and Harassment
Engaging in threatening behavior or threatening the use of physical force, verbal abuse, or intimidation tactics towards the debtor during the repossession process is a breach of the peace. Repo men have a duty to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully, refraining from any actions that may cause fear for personal safety.
Police Assisting the Repo Man: Addressing Improper Collaborations
While law enforcement agencies may assist repossession companies in certain situations, they must do so within the boundaries of the law. If the police exceed their authority or collude with repo man to unlawfully facilitate the repossession, it constitutes a breach of peace by the repo man and possibly a civil rights violation by the police.
Unauthorized Access and Forced Entry: Violating Private Property Rights
Repo agents must respect private property rights and obtain proper authorization before entering restricted areas, such as gated communities and closed garages, to repossess a vehicle. Breaking locks, trespassing, or disregarding property boundaries without lawful permission is considered a breach of peace.
Property Damage During Repossession: Accountability for Negligence
Repossession companies have a responsibility to exercise caution and care when repossessing a vehicle. Causing damage to the debtor’s property, such as through reckless driving, car collision, or mishandling, is not only a breach of peace but also a violation of property rights.
Protecting Your Rights: How a Repossession Lawyer Can Help
The legal landscape surrounding auto breach of peace repossessions can be complex. Consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer is crucial to understanding your rights as a debtor. Once an attorney-client relationship is formed, our skilled attorneys will explain the relevant consumer protection laws that safeguard you from unlawful vehicle repossession practices and help you determine if a breach of the peace has occurred.
Documenting the Incident: Gathering Evidence for Your Case
If you believe you have been a victim of a breach of peace repossession, it is essential to gather evidence to support your claims. Photographs or videos of the repossession, witness statements, communications with the repossession agency, or any documented injuries or property damage are all strong evidence that can strengthen your case, establish the breach of peace and pursue money damages.
Seeking Legal Representation: The Role of an Attorney
In the face of a breach of peace repossession, seeking legal assistance is vital to protect your rights and seek justice. An experienced lawyer will ensure that you understand your rights, assist you in gathering compelling evidence, and provide skilled representation throughout the legal process.
By taking action and engaging a lawyer, you increase your chances of holding the repossession agency accountable, obtaining remedies, and preventing further breaches of peace in the future. Remember, your voice matters, and with the support of an attorney client relationship, you can assert your rights and reclaim your peace of mind.
Thompson Consumer Law Group can assist you if you’ve been the victim of an unlawful repossession. Get in touch with us and we’ll schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to go over your case. We have several years of experience handling breach of peace repossession cases and can explain what it takes for you to get the compensation you might be entitled to.