Motor Vehicle Theft

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What is Motor Vehicle Theft?

Motor vehicle theft involves the theft of another person’s vehicle, usually a passenger car. This can occur through breaking into a car, stealing a running car, or through the use of force. Vehicle theft may include the theft of motorcycles, scooters, trucks, and various recreational motor vehicles.

Vehicle thefts are among the most common types of thefts. Every state upholds slightly different laws that govern motor vehicle thefts.

What are the Legal Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft Charges?

Legal penalties for motor vehicle theft will depend on the nature of the incident. Motor vehicle theft is frequently classified as a misdemeanor. This is usually the case for less serious theft crimes, such as theft for the purpose of joyriding. Misdemeanors result in legal penalties such as criminal fines and a short time in a jail facility (usually less than one year).

More serious vehicle theft crimes may result in felony charges. These are punishable by higher criminal fines and longer sentences, usually served in a prison facility. An example of felony charges is grand theft auto, which is car theft combined with the intent to sell the car or parts of the car. Also, repeat offenses of misdemeanor crimes can result in felony charges.

What does "Carjacking" Mean?

Carjacking occurs when the use of force is applied in the process of stealing a car. For instance, the assailant may hold a driver at gunpoint while they are stopped at an intersection. They will usually force the other person out of the car and drive the car away. If there are passengers being held in the car at the time, it could also lead to kidnapping charges. These are very serious crimes that generally result in felony charges.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Motor Vehicle Theft Charges?

Automobile or vehicle theft is a serious charge and can often involve complicated legal theories. You may need to hire a lawyer in your area if you need any assistance at all with motor vehicle theft laws. Your defense attorney can provide you with the legal representation needed for your case. Also, your lawyer can be on hand to assist you with any questions or concerns that might arise during the process.

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Last Modified: 08-12-2013 10:57 AM PDT

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