Master Car Keys and Criminal Liability
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What is a Master Car Key?
In theory, each car should only be accessible by one key, or a duplicate of that one key. Master car keys are designed to open the trunk or door and start the ignition for more than one car. Master keys are generally used in connection with stealing cars.
When Can I Face Criminal Liability for a Master Car Key?
Most states have laws that govern master car keys. Generally, in connection to a master car key, it is a crime for a person to:
- Distribute, or
- Possess a master car key.
What Punishment Can I Face?
- Jail time, generally no more than 2 years,
- Fines, ranging from $50 to $10,000,
- Community service,
- Parole or probation, or
- Loss of driver's license.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Because a car's master key can be used for other purposes than stealing a car, most states have created specific exceptions to criminal liability. They include the manufacturing, distribution, or possession of a master car key by any of the following in the course of ordinary business:
- Commercial or professional locksmiths,
- Car fleet owners,
- Car dealers,
- Rental car agencies,
- Car manufacturers,
- Automobile clubs, or
- Government departments and agencies.
Do I Need an Attorney if I am Charged With a Crime Involving a Master Car Key?
If you are charged with a crime in connection to a master car key, it is strongly recommended that you contact a criminal defense attorney because you can potentially face greater criminal charges in connection to your activity. Only an attorney will be able to adequately explain the issues and help in your defense.
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Last Modified: 05-06-2011 02:13 PM PDT
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