North Carolina Files 400 Charges Against Nissan Employees

A months-long investigation into a North Carolina Nissan dealership has resulted in more than 400 criminal charges being filed. A dozen employees are facing charges related to their practices for selling used vehicles. North Carolina Department of Transportation and Theft Bureau investigated the dealership's process for rebuilding titles of salvage vehicles and selling them to consumers. During the investigation, they found additional evidence of other types of crimes. The general manager faces 110 counts of failure to inspect vehicles before offering them for sale. Specifically, the state is charging the employees with the following:

  • Failure to inspect vehicles before offering them for sale
  • Failure to deliver the title
  • Failure to disclose damage
  • Improper use of temporary markers
  • Making false statements about the date of sale
Failure to Disclose Damage to a Vehicle is a Misdemeanor in North Carolina

It is illegal for a car dealership or individual selling their vehicle to fail to disclose damage that has been done to the vehicle. Doing so is considered a misdemeanor charge in North Carolina. Specifically, it is illegal to transfer a motor vehicle that is up to five model years old when the seller knows that the vehicle has been involved in a collision. This law applies when the collision causes damage to the extent that the repair cost is more than 25% of the vehicle's fair market retail value at the time of the collision. Sellers must disclose that fact in writing to the buyer of the vehicle before they transfer the vehicle.

Similarly, sellers must disclose that a vehicle was involved in a flood, has been reconstructed, or was a salvage motor vehicle in writing to the buyer before transferring the vehicle. The employees at Nissan were allegedly selling salvaged motor vehicles to consumers and not telling them they were salvaged.

North Carolina also prohibits selling a vehicle without telling the buyer about damaged or defective safety systems. When the seller knows that the vehicle has a counterfeit supplemental seat belt system, a non-functioning airbag, or no airbag, they must disclose these facts to the buyer. However, the seller cannot be charged if the vehicle owner doesn't know the safety issues involved.

For example, suppose someone takes their vehicle to a car dealership in North Carolina to sell it. The dealership should inspect the vehicle and discover that one or more of these safety issues is occurring. In that case, the franchise motor vehicle dealer or its owner has knowledge of the safety issues and cannot be held accountable under this law. At the same time, the dealership must inspect vehicles before offering them for sale. They can be charged with that crime if they fail to inspect the vehicles.

Failure to Inspect Vehicles Before Offering Them for Sale

Failure to inspect vehicles before offering them for sale is also considered an infraction in North Carolina. An infraction is not as serious as a misdemeanor or felony charge, and a convicted person faces a penalty of up to $50. Vehicles are subject to a safety inspection and an admissions inspection if they are used vehicles offered for sale by a county dealer requiring emissions testing.

When a used vehicle fails an emissions inspection, obtaining a waiver from the inspection requirement is possible. The motor vehicle division has the right to issue a waiver for the vehicle unless a motor vehicle dealer is selling the vehicle. In that case, the dealer cannot so the vehicle. North Carolina regulations say that failing to inspect a used motor vehicle before offering it for retail sale is considered an infraction and that the law applies to motor vehicle dealers. Additionally, a person who performs a safety inspection without a license or an emissions inspection without a license and states that the vehicle has passed the test will be guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with failure to inspect a vehicle before offering it for sale, failure to deliver the title, improper use of temporary markers, or any other charge related to selling used vehicles, you will benefit from hiring an experienced attorney. You will have a record if you are convicted, and your future career opportunities could be negatively affected. Do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn how we can fight for you.