Are Lemon Law Claims Criminal Charges?

Are you stressed about a Lemon Law claim and wondering if it could escalate to criminal charges? Let’s clarify some confusion: Lemon Law claims in Nevada are generally not criminal. They are civil cases focused on consumer rights regarding defective vehicles.

At De Castroverde Law Group, we have a dedicated team ready to assist you through every step of your Lemon Law claim. From evaluating the case against you to representing you in negotiations or court, we’re here to protect your rights and strive for the best possible outcome. Don’t try to handle this process alone; let our experienced attorneys guide you. Contact us today for a confidential, no-obligation case review.

Lemon Laws

What Are Lemon Laws?

“Lemon Laws” get their name from the term “lemon,” which refers to a car with a significant defect that makes it unsafe to drive or unable to function correctly. These laws provide certain guarantees to consumers and the means for them to take legal action if they buy a defective vehicle. While individual states (including Nevada) have Lemon Laws, there are also federal statutes that provide certain rights to people who buy cars, such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Nevada Lemon Laws

Most Lemon Law cases in Nevada center on state laws. You can find the exact text of Nevada’s Lemon Laws in the Nevada Revised Statutes, but here are the essential points you need to know:

  • Definition and Eligibility: Under Nevada law, a “buyer” purchases a new motor vehicle for personal use, not resale. This includes any subsequent owners during the vehicle’s warranty period. The term “motor vehicle” mainly covers cars and trucks, excluding motor homes and off-road vehicles, except under certain conditions.
  • Reporting Defects: If a new vehicle doesn’t meet the manufacturer’s warranties, the buyer must report the defect in writing to the manufacturer either before the warranty expires or within one year of vehicle delivery, whichever comes first. The manufacturer or authorized agent must attempt to repair the vehicle to conform to the warranties.
  • Resolution Attempts: If a manufacturer cannot repair a vehicle so that it meets warranty specifications after a “reasonable” number of repair attempts, the manufacturer must either replace the vehicle with a comparable one or refund the purchase price, including taxes and fees, minus a reasonable allowance for the vehicle’s use.
  • Reasonable Number of Attempts: Under Nevada law, a reasonable number of repair attempts typically means four or more attempts to fix the defect within the warranty period or the vehicle has been out of service for 30 or more cumulative days due to repair. Those 30 days can be extended in cases where repairs could not be completed due to factors beyond the manufacturer’s control.
  • Dispute Resolution: Before taking legal action, the buyer must use any informal dispute resolution process the manufacturer has established in compliance with federal regulations.
  • Time Limits for Actions: The buyer must initiate legal action under the Nevada Lemon Law within 18 months after the original date the vehicle was delivered.

Can Lemon Law Claims Lead to Criminal Charges?

Lemon Law claims typically involve resolving issues with defective vehicles and do not lead to criminal charges because these claims fall under civil law. Criminal charges would only arise in cases involving intentional wrongdoing or fraud connected to the vehicle’s condition, such as tampering with the odometer or selling the vehicle with known, undisclosed defects in a deceptive manner. However, these instances are rare and distinct from standard Lemon Law claims. For most automakers or dealers facing Lemon Law claims related to a defective vehicle, criminal charges are not a concern.

Potential Penalties in a Successful Lemon Law Claim

If you lose a Lemon Law claim, you could face several penalties that impact your financial standing. Here’s what you might expect:

  • Vehicle Replacement or Refund: The court may require you to replace the defective vehicle with a new one that matches or is comparable or refund the purchase price, including all taxes, fees, and associated costs.
  • Reimbursement of Expenses: You might also have to pay back the owner for any expenses linked to the defective vehicle, such as repair costs, rental car fees, and towing charges.
  • Attorney’s Fees and Court Costs: If the case goes to court and the buyer wins, you could be responsible for their legal fees and other court-related expenses.
  • Punitive Damages: In rare cases where the buyer can prove fraud or a severe disregard for consumer rights, they could be awarded punitive damages if the case goes to court.

Defending Against Lemon Law Claims

Just because Lemon Law claims usually do not involve criminal charges does not mean they can’t have severe consequences for dealers and auto manufacturers. If you are facing a Lemon Law claim in Nevada, here are some potential defense strategies you and your legal team could employ:

  • Proving Maintenance Negligence: Show that the vehicle’s issues are due to the owner’s failure to maintain the car. Regular maintenance records are pivotal in demonstrating that the defects resulted from buyer negligence rather than inherent manufacturing faults.
  • Documenting Proper Repairs: Provide evidence that all repairs followed manufacturer guidelines and authorized dealers conducted the repairs. This helps demonstrate that the defects were addressed appropriately under the terms of the vehicle’s warranty.
  • Challenging the Number of Repair Attempts: Argue that the number of attempts to fix the vehicle was reasonable given the nature of the defects. This involves showing that each repair was a legitimate effort to fix the problem.
  • Demonstrating Buyer Misuse: Establish that the vehicle issues result from misuse or unauthorized modifications by the owner. This can include evidence of off-road use, overloading, or alterations the manufacturer did not approve.
  • Disputing the Defect’s Impact: Argue that the defect does not substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety and thereby does not meet the legal threshold for a Lemon Law claim.

Contact Our Nevada Lemon Law Defense Lawyers Today

While Lemon Law cases in Nevada rarely lead to criminal charges, a successful claim could still have a significant financial impact on you. The Las Vegas Lemon Law defense attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group can help you defend yourself against these claims and protect your financial future. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.