Master Car Keys and Criminal Liability

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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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:

As mentioned above, criminal liability for a manufacturing, distributing, or possessing a car's master key is usually connected to other criminal offenses like carjacking or grand theft auto.

What Punishment Can I Face?

Manufacturing, distributing, or possessing a master car key is generally a misdemeanor offense.  As such, most criminal punishments can include:

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:

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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